Saturday, July 04, 2015

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Book Description:

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

Reviewer's Copy: Hardcover

Source: Bought

My Thoughts: (This is where I rave.)

Ravka was incredibly exotic and vivid. I enjoyed reading about the different areas of the story world and perusing the gorgeous map. Bardugo wrote in such a detailed and hypnotic way. The words demanded to be read. It left me intoxicated and wanting for more.

Alina Starkov was an orphan from Keramzin. She was a ghost sliding through day to day life, unnoticed. In a desperate and terrifying moment, this nobody unleashed a power unlike any other in the Unsea, shattering the bubble that has hidden her from the eyes of the public. Alina was flawed and realistic, this made her more human to me despite being the Sun Summoner. She did not believe in her own power in the beginning, and she even flat out denied its existence. She was unwilling to accept her fate so easily, when being Grisha meant that she would be away from the only person who has really cared about her: Malyen Oretsev, longtime best friend and fellow orphan. She had the potential to be a very powerful Grisha and yet she manifested signs of weakness, both physically and emotionally. It was refreshing and surprising at the same time. What really intrigued me further was that Alina had a dark side - the part of her that was Grisha was hungry and longing for power.

The Darkling stole my heart, though I mildly resented him for it, sometimes. With silken onyx hair, gray quartz eyes that examine every inch of your being, a touch that gives you a sense of surety and words that drip with promises and mysteries, I found myself drawn to the Darkling, even more than Alina was. He was an intriguing character, showing multiple facets of his being. He was the Darkling, current leader of the Second Army; Summoner of Darkness; the boy who lived over a hundred years and who was ten steps ahead of everyone and; the boy with longing in his eyes. I loved how he was hard to figure out. There were just too many possible motives, a sea unspoken words and wave after wave of cruelty and violence surrounding him, so much so that the Darkling has become an unsolved equation. The mind and the heart struggle to see through his shell.

Mal, Alina's best friend and secret love, was easy enough to understand. Mal was the exact opposite of the Darkling: down to earth, warm, protective and pure in his intentions. He was the only person who has been there for Alina but now that his best friend was a Grisha, how would he fit into her world? After Alina was taken away, he was dumbstruck to realize that he missed her. As they say, you only know the true worth of something or someone when it is no longer yours. Mal unleashed a lot of heartfelt statements that pierced me through. I liked how the author was able to reach me emotionally, through Mal's character.

Grisha who were discovered stayed at the Little Palace in Os Alta. There were three Grisha orders: Corporalki (The Order of the Living and the Dead): Heartrenders, Healers; Etherealki (The Order of Summoners): Squallers, Inferni and Tidemakers and; Materialki (The Order of Fabrikators): Durasts and Alkemi. After education and sufficient training, some Grisha would be sent to rich, noble families to serve but the best ones were handpicked to be a part of the Second Army, under the Darkling. I loved the entire cast of Grisha, especially Genya and David. They were an eccentric and amusing bunch.

The story itself was enchanting and written with such detail and vibrance, it has rendered me awestruck. The plot and the history reminded me a bit of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. The books were similar in terms of the religious aspect, the mention and regard given to saints and the history that was tied to them. There were twists and turns that kept me guessing, calculating and predicting events, reasons and outcomes. The pure entertainment would have to be with the power struggle and the fact that Ravka was almost in tatters, with the Shadow Fold cutting the country into two. The dire situation only intensified the race for power and domination. There were political aspects tackled, detailed and broken down for the readers to see and appreciate.

Shadow and Bone was an intoxicating blend of fantasy, with a shot of creeping romance and temptation, a generous dose of epic adventures and battles and a dash of light and darkness. I highly recommend this book to fantasy readers and romance readers alike. If you liked Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, you might like this novel as well!


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!

Giveaway Alert! I'm also giving away a signed paperback of Shadow and Bone (for residents of the Philippines) + a Pre-order of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (open internationally) here.


  1. i like how you described your love (and resentment) for things. I agree, Ravka was SUCH an exotic and unique place. I just love Bardugo's ability to create a world and deliver it to us without so many unnecessary things. As for The Darkling, he also stole my heart and i totally get your resentment!

    great review
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. Hello Juhina! Thanks for dropping by! I love Leigh's world building - it's also the same with what she did in Six of Crows, which is amazing. The Darkling is <3 no matter how mean he could be sometimes.

  2. I LOVEEEDDDD this book but unfortunately haven’t picked up the other two in the trilogy :( I will this summer though! Great review–I totally fell for the Darkling too <3

    1. I highly suggest that you pick up Siege and Storm + Ruin and Rising at the nearest bookstore and read them asap. It will be worth it, I promise. Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Amazing, wonderfully written review! I hope you enjoy the next two books of the trilogy just as much (if not more!).. it's my favorite trilogy <3

    1. Awww, thank you! <3 I actually already finished the other two books. I am just in awe of the epicness. It's my fave trilogy, too! :)