Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review : Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  • Release Date: June 12, 2012 
  • Genre: Fantasy/High Fantasy
  •  Pages: 358  
  • Publishers: Henry Holt and Co. (Macmillan)
Synopsis: 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.

I heard a lot about this book in the YA blogging community and was ready to jump on the bandwagon. I really like Macmillan's Fierce Reads novels, but Shadow and Bone was a lukewarm book for me. I could never get caught up in the story and it took me a while to really sit down and finish this one.

In the war-torn land of  Ravka, a dangerous shadow known as The Fold has severed the country in half. Ravka's only light in the dark are the Grisha, those who are born with the ability to  "manipulate matter at its most fundamental elements" while living in the lap of luxury serving the king and the most powerful Grisha of all, The Darkling.

Orphan and common foot soldier, Alina Starkov, has always turned her nose to Grisha. Maybe it's because the Grisha girls catch the eye of her best friend and fellow soldier Mal. But none of that matters when Alina discovers she is not only a Grisha, but the most powerful Grisha in Ravka and she with the Darkling may be the only hope to save their land.

Shadow and Bone is billed as an epic fantasy, but it felt stripped down to me. Maybe because I read this right after Melina Marchetta's Lumatare Chronicles, which is this dense fantasy YA packed with the political nuances, rich detail, and brutality. 

Bardugo created a fairly unique setting within the world of Ravka; a land based on Russian folklore and culture. While there aren't a lot of terms, I did have to look up exactly what kvas and keftka were to get a better visual.

At the beginning of the story, I was really into this book, but when the plot got rolling it all started to feel very familiar. I know this book is a huge fan favorite, but I got bored with it. I feel like this The Only One trope is really overused in YA; There is a twist that shakes things up for the second half of the novel, but doesn't have a big pay off. 

Shadow and Bone is a stand out in YA for it's illustrated cover and setting, perfect for readers who enjoy lighter YA or readers who want to try out the epic fantasy genre.


  1. I couldn't remember much about this after reading it. However, I recently re-read it and enjoyed it more. The sequel is stronger than this one, I think, so I hope you'll like that one more if you do read it. I definitely see what you mean about The Only One trope because I worried about the same thing. Thanks for your honest review!

  2. I agree that the main character, Alina, was a little bit cliched, but I loved the detail and world building in SHADOW AND BONE, so that kind of made up for her. :P I haven't read Melina Marchetta's LUMATERE CHRONICLES, but I've been hearing nothing but great things for it. That's why I have FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK sitting on my shelf right now!

    Anyway, sorry that this book didn't stand out for you much. I really enjoyed it, but I hope your next read is better! Great review, Kat. :)

  3. I'm not really a fan of fantasy books, and the whole protagonist being special, for me, is just overexposed so I think I'll pass on this one. I'm glad though that a lot of ya book bloggers loved Shadow and Bone but I just think it's not for me. I have a feeling I'm going to have a hard time getting into the story. Great review :)

    Little Book Star

  4. I think that's fair, I think it's great you know what books are and aren't good for you. I think your comment summarizes my feelings on this book perfectly.

  5. I really liked the world in Shadow and Bone too, I'm not really sure if I will read the next one I'll have to see what the reviews say when it comes out.

  6. I really, really, really liked this book. The setting, the characters, the writing-style, everything feels good. Perfect.

    Maycee (Cash for Gold)

  7. I loved the ending, which provides a good amount of closure, while
    setting up book two quite nicely. I am on pins and needles to find out
    what happens next in the world of The Grisha. I would recommend this
    book to anyone, especially fans of YA, fantasy, and paranormal fiction.
    It was an excellent read!
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