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 like sitting in my house with the wind absolutely shrieking outside, wrapped in blankets while reading about a land in wintertime. The author said this in her Q&A at the end of this printing, but I love that she did something with her world that’s different than the usual fantasy novel. I’m all for medieval England-inspired books George R.R. Martin style, but this definitely added something special to the story.
The “science” or magic isn’t super out of the ordinary in the way that’s it’s divided. Different people have different abilities, some people don’t have any. The usual. The thing that makes Bardugo’s world stand out is that she takes the things that are normally metaphors in fantasy- light being good, dark being evil- and makes them physical. Darkness is an actual place. That sounds simple but I like the way she used it. I have to admit that it took me until around page 100 to even realize this was Tsarist Russia influenced, but I’m shitty at architecture and I thought the cover had a Middle Eastern vibe. The names and clothing should have given it a way. Woops.
The main character, while she struggled and didn’t fit in, as is common for YA, she also wasn’t annoying about it. Nothing about this book was annoying. The constant inner monologue in my head actually shut up while I was reading this because I loved the main character and cared about what happened to her. Most of the characters weren’t black and white, even if they were dark and light. There was no one who was inherently evil or on the other side completely unselfish.
This is one of those ones where I went in knowing very little about the plot. I dislike reading the synopsis again after I buy a book, and by the time I get to reading I usually forget everything about what it’s supposed to be about. So the whole “love triangle” didn’t really seem like a love triangle to me, because I wasn’t bracing for it and in the end we all know that it wasn’t one, truly. So if you haven’t read this yet (slim) don’t let that little trope discourage you.
I am currently halfway through the second book in the series.
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published: June 2012 by Henry Holt & Co. (My bonus content edition: May 2013 by Square Fish)
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