Feb 14, 2016

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy 1)

  by LEIGH BARDUGO  

book review rating 4 out of 5

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.

Goodreads summary

SMART. UNPREDICTABLE. EMOTIONAL. These are the winning traits that prove Leigh Bardugo is a brilliant author adept at creating the perfect indulgence for fantasy fans. Shadow and Bone is highly addictive, yet undeniably satisfying.

Ravka, a fantasy world modeled after Tsarist Russia of the early 1800s, rich in Russian culture and folklore, is the backdrop for the magical Grisha world (a.k.a Grishaverse). From the hierarchical kefta (gorgeous, uniform-like garments symbolizing a particular Grisha gift) to the Small Science (theories and applications of these gifts), all these details provide a deeper understanding of Ms. Bardugo’s Grisaverse, and a better appreciation for the story that unfolds in it.

Also, I appreciate how so much of who Ms. Bardugo is is folded into the story. It was in Six of Crows, with Kaz Brekker’s crippling condition based on her degenerative condition called osteonecrosis. And, it is also here with her indulgence and fondness for “glamour, ghouls, and costuming” as seen with Genya’s ability to tailor looks. Which by the way, is the best superpower every mom (me, I’m totally a sleep-deprived mom) NEEDS.

Which begs the question: Who (in real life) does she draw inspiration from for her characters? Spill it Ms. Bardugo! Especially, who did you draw inspiration from for the Darkling? Hmmm.

I find her characters incredibly complex and interesting. They remind me of the proverb:


(The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.)

Ms. Bardugo doesn't simple write good or bad characters, but wonderfully complex ones, that occasional err in order to grow. Alina is naive and vulnerable, yet possesses unwavering strength in times of hardship. Malyen, or Mal, is funny and carefree, yet shows a deep and heroic devotion for Alina. My absolute favorite character is the Darkling—the antagonist. The way the Darkling runs his hand through his hair when he's frustrated is so human, so un-hate-able. It's these little details that personifies him from words on a page to a person I can connect with. I’m looking forward to understanding his backstory.

And the plotline? Leigh Bardugo does not disappoint! After reading two of her books, I can confidently say (write...you get my gist) that she is a solid fantasy author who effortlessly, brilliantly delivers an amazing page-turner. Shadow and Bone is twisty, unpredictable, and highly addictive. I can’t wait to delve deeper into this shadowy and mysterious world with Siege and Storm (Grisha 2).

Available at

Amazon | Book Depository