Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Genre: YA FantasyRating: ALL the stars, hearts and puppies! (please refer to my star rating rant here if you have questions...thank you for your understanding.)
First things first. Where is the Grishaverse and HOW do I get there? It’s where I belong. Truly.
After my amazing experience with Six Of Crows which can be read about here, it's obviously that I was eager to continue my journey into the Grishaverse with Ms. Bardugo, thus I just HAD to start Shadow and Bone. In a word: brilliant. It is just brilliant.
I have seen a wide range of reviews for S&B, but I will tell you first hand that this world and this book is incredible from the first page to the very last. YA is a hard genre to get RIGHT, and Leigh did. Hands down. And I will defend that to the very bitter end!
Shadow and Bone is a YA “Dark Fantasy” or “tsarpunk” (coined from its mixed time era and heavy Russian cultures by author and editor-HA! I love it!).
We meet Alina marching with the First Army along with her best friend and companion through life, Mal. They were both orphaned and taken in as children and have been side by side ever since. SO what if Alina may fancy him in a secret? Pfft. The are marching to cross THE FOLD. The Unsea if you will. A desolate dark wasteland full of Volcra- these delicious toothy flying monsters with blind milky eyes and a taste for human flesh!! When they cross the threshold and plunge into darkness and chaos Alina summons a power she didn't know she had in the face of death! From there things spiral pretty crazy…..
The Grisha are lead by The Darkling (so aptly named) who is second to the King of Ravka...he’s mysterious and….dark, but really intriguing. And he takes a strong liking to our Alina and the power she possesses. She is whisked back to the “Little Palace” to begin her Grisha training….where the Darkling hopes her skills will advance and he can use her to help DESTROY the The Fold……until...plot twist turn around major OMG!! WHAT?!?!?!? NOOOOOOOO! (I am still holding out hope…..I am.)
There’s some pining away and worrying and eye rolling and kisses and mean girls and pretty clothes all in between though…..and I LOVED IT!
Alina is a good person and she is a believable character. She's strong but not void of fear. She is susceptible to the charms of a strapping young lad (even when she shouldn’t be) and I admire that...a lot of young heroines seem stoic and indifferent to the strong sexy male lead and I just think that's inaccurate. I would SWOON. She wants the best for her country and it’s people and truly believes she is HELPING a righteous cause. And she does so humbly and with insecurities in her ability to complete the task. I LIKE THAT.
It’s a bit of a love triangle...kind of…..which I usually am not a fan of...this one kind of tore me apart but I didn’t mind. There is Mal her trusted confidant and best friend who is loyal and strong and good and cares for Alina. There is The Darkling who is all dark and mysterious riding in on his dark horse to take Alina away and show her new things she didn’t know she could do….there is a lot of conflicting tension. Is he GOOD disguised as BAD or BAD pretending to be GOOD…? AHHHH! Who knows!
I love how we get so much information on this world and culture gradually and in a natural progression with the plot. A lot of times in fantasy reads, you get one big information drop and it is just too much to take in all at once. I love the Russian cultural drives in the story too...it makes this story and this world really unique and fun to dive into. It’s diverse and almost contrasting. I’d love to narrow down a “time era” but I feel like some of the imagery conflicts in my head and I end up with a modge-podge of a lot of different things...and oddly I’m okay with that as it just makes it all the more unique and it’s own.
I tend to lag on the SUPER HYPED series in YA. 9 times out of 10 I haven’t read them yet, but it doesn’t bother me as I’m usually not as impressed as I thought I’d be (Vampire Academy...blah).
However with this series I find myself asking, WHYYY DID I TAKE SO LONG!? I always saw this series and thought the covers were cool…”Like hey one day I should read that book that has the cool cover with the Kremlin type buildings and such……” then never pursued it any farther. WHY? Cause I am a silly little book dragon, THAT'S WHY...and sadly you are too if you don't check this out! (Is this series super HYPED? I don’t even know really...but it IS NOW in MY WORLD either way!)
I cannot wait to keep going, and OOHH MAN this has gone down as a favorite for SURE! The epic battles I see in my future are dark and spectacular and have my eager to turn the pages faster and faster!
Also...OF COURSE I had to take the Grisha quiz to find out what I am. I am a Summoner... pffttt YEAH I AM! You can take it here on the Grishaverse website!
THIS is so me! SPOT ON!