April 3, 2014

Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, book 1) by Leigh Bardugo


Genre: Fantasy Young Adult
Edition Reviewed: eBook
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Goodreads: N/A

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.


This is a title I have mixed feelings on, and makes me curse my rating system. Because honestly it doesn't offer anything new to the fantasy genre. Especially the young adult section. This story has been told before. Yet as I sunk further and further into the pages I was transported. The setting is like an old world Russia that is just barely figuring out technology. Russia is actually one of the few explored alternate fantasy realms I've come across. Heck I can't even remember what book used it . . . so that's a good thing for Shadow and Bone.

It's funny that I enjoyed this title so much. Because the characters were all horrible. Alina alone made me roll my eyes at so many points. She wines constantly, lacks any self worth, for some reason is really picky about food despite being poor and probably starving most of her life. She has a crush on her best friend that she will never confess too, and would rather suffer watching him man whore himself out. When she finally starts to look beautiful because of her powers, and probably finally eating, she gets just as conceded as the other court imbeciles. Love interest/best friend Mal starts off cool, but ends up being a jealous idiot that only wants Alina after he sees that she's beautiful and the Darkling desires her. The Darkling is probably the only honest character. Even after the big reveal I preferred him over some of the other characters. At least he's honest and can look past appearances.

The character I loved the most was Genya, a beautiful court Grisha. Probably because of the hardships she's faced, and the fact that she doesn't have her head up her ass (yeah looking at you Alina) Genya is the most realistic character presented. She actually has a crush on a none attractive looking guy, which leads me to believe that she understands that real self worth is not looks. Then Alina ruins this by continually wondering how such a beautiful person like Genya could fall in love with a ugly person! Then if that happened Alina herself has a chance!

Alina. Alina. That self doubt poisons this whole novel. (Yes, I know that not every character can be sure of themselves. But her lack of confidence almost borders on abuse!) Alina has this amazing power that hasn't been seen for hundreds of years she finds that her worth is hinged upon how she looks. She doesn't want it, then she does when she loses it, then she's ready to throw it away again. Every woman in this book is obsessed with looks, what they have and wear, and they're all petty and jealous. Wow. To be honest I'm surprised that Bardugo allowed Alina to have a friend like Genya, and that Genya was so real. (AKA down to earth.)

Yes. Despite ALL of that crap, I was transported. Part of me accepted that Alina was stupid. After all the main reason for her blocking her own gift was . . . lame. Sweet when she was a child, but pathetic now that she's an adult. The thing is the love triangle. It was done well. Even though both male interests ended up being self-absorbed jerks. The Darkling is a scary guy. Despite the fact that he only wants to use Alina for his own gain, he falls for her. His anger over that and want is a . . . fiery. . . strange experience.

The problem with wanting," he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, "is that it makes us weak.” - Darkling

The uniqueness of it had me swooning. Mal was a slut from the get go with his extreme good looks. When he finally comes back and only wants Alina because of her looks (and other males now look at her) he wants her. Yet lines like this won me over to his side (but I'll save some of the better lines for reading enjoyment):

I don't care if you danced naked on the roof of the Little Palace with him. I love you, Alina, even the part of you that loved him.” -Mal

I'm sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.” -Mal

Mal,"I whispered into the night.
"Thanks for finding me."
"Always.” - Alina & Mal

Do you blame me for every mistake I made? For every girl I tumbled? For every dumb thing I've said? Because if we start running tallies on stupid, you know who's going to come out ahead.” - Mal

The writing is clever and very beautiful at times. There were plenty of humorous moments and when Alina wasn't putting herself down she was pretty witty. The overall adventure was fun and there were a few twists that took me by surprise. If I can put aside some of Alina's serious annoying thoughts. (Like being obsessed over looks and boys when there's a greater thing going on. Like impending war, a chance to get rid of the Shadow Fold, and so on.) The romance was fun. Between fearing the man who first sees you as a woman, and the childhood friend that only realizes how much you meant after you’re gone. This is a coming of age story that I'm generally fond of. The play on how one should sacrifice the man for the few comes up and might be a pretty big shocker for readers. Despite myself the addiction has taken root. Yep.

Sexual Content: Make out, references to sex and having it, and some sexual humor.

3/5- Adored it, just a few minor details held it back.

Previous book(s) in series:
Reviewed on BW: Amazon: Goodreads:
Shadow and Bone (1)
Siege and Storm (2)
Ruin and Rising (3)
Shadow and Bone (1)
Siege and Storm (2)
Ruin and Rising (3)
Shadow and Bone (1)
Siege and Storm (2)
Ruin and Rising (3)

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