June 5, 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.
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.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.
“I've been waiting for you a long time, Alina" He said. "You and I are going to change the world.”
My favorite part of this read is the originality in the world. There is an interesting concept with how magic and powers are portrayed. There are regular humans in the country of Ravka who have magical talents (though they say it's not 'magic' it's a study of the Small Science). They are broken up into groups based on where their talents lie and they are in the Second Army, led by the Darkling and protect the citizens. I found the concept to be alluring and different. Each person has their own specific talent that they bring to the table and I really appreciate that they use these powers to protect the 'normal' people. I also think that the Shadow Fold is amazingly creepy. Their trade routes have basically been eclipsed by this large sea of impenetrable darkness containing the horrors of the Volcra, man eating beasts that swoop out of the sky and devour their victims.
There are also some wonderful characters in Shadow and Bone
. With a name like the Darkling, I wasn't expecting a happy-go-lucky character and Bardugo didn't disappoint. He is mysterious, quite powerful, and definitely lives up to his name. He has a pull on the Grisha which makes them all swoon after him, but is largely feared by the general population. I would label him a Grade A Creeper.
Alina is the main character in the opening of the story along with Mal and they are friends from childhood having grown up together in an orphanage. Alina is very flawed with low self-image and Mal is the fun-loving ladie's man. They both have talents that are later revealed and a desire to do what's right which is necessary in a good heroine/hero. Alina starts out quite cowardly, but her bravery grows through the trials she experiences. The character of Genya is a delight. She's that girl that thinks she's awesome despite so many people telling her otherwise, which I love. None of the characters are exactly what they seem, with a large mix of good and bad whether in personality or decisions.
In the Volcra's Claws
Despite the fact that the world and concept of magic are original and interesting, the words and phrases used throughout the story are hard to stumble through. I still can't tell you what each branch of Grisha is responsible for. There are Summoners (which is fairly self-explanatory), Corporalki, Squallers, Fabrikators, Heartrenders, and Tailors (which are not at all what you'd think) and other words used throughout like kefta which is a robe the Grisha wear. There are just so many new terms that I feel could have been better described, and some that could have been left out all-together that I was basically skimming over and using context clues for what they could mean.
Oh, Alina. Our main girl has a bit of a self-image problem. She's constantly complaining or commenting on the fact that she's not very good-looking. Then she meets someone who can alter her appearance by little degrees for the better, and she gets riled saying she doesn't want to change. So much contradiction. You either are comfortable with yourself, or you're not, and I prefer my heroines with a good dose of self-esteem (even if not much at first to at least grow into it).
Like Calls to Like
I really like the difference in this one with how our main character Alina has the crush on her best friend who has friend-zoned her. Too often, we see it the other way around with the best friend pining after the main character and they get pushed to the side for the new love interest. I enjoyed the flip of this one.
The Darkling sinks his claws into Alina and captures her attention for a bit. Not too much romance in this one, just some minor kissing.
To the Other Side of the World
A good start to the series. I enjoyed getting to see a new take on magic and loved that they fight for the people with their powers. I also like how the characters are all flawed and all have some good points and I get to choose which flaws deem someone 'good' and which flaws deem someone 'bad'. The villain is a good one with the belief that they aren't really a villain at all. Some of the wording is too vague and hard to understand, and some of the groups of Grisha are difficult to remember what part they play. I also tired a bit of Alina's negative self-esteem. Overall, a good story with fresh ideas and great potential to go somewhere even better in future books. I will be continuing the series.
“The problem with wanting," he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, "is that it makes us weak.”
It's probably for the best, I told myself. How would I have said goodbye to Mal anyway? Thanks for being my best friend and making my life bearable. Oh, and sorry I fell in love with you for a while there. Make sure to write!
"What are you smiling at?"
I whirled, peering into the gloom. The Darkling's voice seemed to float out of the shadows. He walked down to the stream, crouching on the bank to splash water on his face and through his dark hair.
"Well?'"he asked, looking up at me.
"Myself," I admitted.
"Are you that funny?"
"I'm not used to people trying to kill me."
"Really? I hardly notice anymore.”