Shadow and Bone is the first Leigh Bardugo book that I have ever read, and while I may not have completely loved it, I will definitely be carrying on with the series.
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Audience: Young Adult
Taken from Goodreads
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.
I did have some expectations heading into Shadow and Bone as I have heard some good things about the series; however, I am aware that most people prefer her Six of Crows duology. And while I did enjoy it and found the plot to be intriguing, there were other elements that I found to be lacking, which slightly detracted from my reading experience.
Shadow and Bone has a magic system set around Grisha, so anyone who is a Grisha possesses abilities that have many different uses in the world. I did like the magic system and found it to be a unique take on the idea of people with powers. Especially as while Grisha have their uses, they are not loved by the wider population, which is something that you usually see. However, when it came to the magic system, I would have loved more information about what it means to be a Grisha and how it is passed from generation to generation as there is no explanation into the origins of the magic system.
Much like wanting more from the magic system, I would have also liked more world building. Leigh Bardugo spent a significant amount of time on the beauty of the royal court and the clothing. But the same amount of detail was not put into the world building. I found myself to be getting very confused about Alina’s location as while there were references to villages, no context was given to her actual position. I also felt that the outdoor settings were left up to my imagination as there was not a tremendous amount of description, so I could have been envisaging the scene completely wrong without even knowing.
While Alina’s magic is central to the plot, her possible romances are as well. I traditionally like romances within fantasy novels, but I didn’t like either of them within Shadow and Bone. I found that both of them were not fully developed and lacked context, as Alina’s attraction to the Darkling felt much more like one-sided insta-love, and I only really got friendship vibes from Mal. However this is only the first book in a trilogy, so there is room for much more romantic development in the future.
One thing that I did love was Leigh Bardugo’s writing style. I found that I loved her language and the descriptions that she used for many different things, like her descriptions of the Kefta’s that Grisha wear. I also found the pacing to be excellent, as the story flowed, and it didn’t feel static at any point, which is something I do see within young adult fantasy.
Overall I found Shadow and Bone to be a good, solid start to a series that I look forward to continuing with in the future. I have high hopes for the development of both the plot and the characters, and can’t wait to see what the next instalment will bring.
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