I’ve always been on the lookout for unique fantasy. Fantasy that takes me to truly new worlds, with new creatures and powers. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo met that wish wonderfully! Between the Russian-inspired setting, the terrifying nature of The Shadow Fold and the intriguing power Alina suddenly manifests, I was hooked from the first page. It didn’t hurt that I had seen so many of my friends raving about Shadow and Bone. If you haven’t read it yet (and like fresh fantasy), then stop denying yourself this awesome experience!
Note: I borrowed Shadow and Bone from my local library. All opinions are my own.
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Length: 356 pages
Genre-ish: Fantasy YA
Rating: ★★★★☆- amazing new setting, awesome characters
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.– Goodreads
- Did I mention that the setting is inspired by Russian culture?? Don’t get me wrong, I love the good ol’ medieval England as much as the next fantasy nerd, but there are so many other interesting places in the world to base fantasy settings on! Shadow and Bone did this wonderfully by also not including too many new words to overwhelm a reader not familiar with the culture.
- I love a book that has a list of all the magic-user categories in the front. My copy of Shadow and Bone had a nice list of all three main categories and what each of the sub-specialities were. This was so much fun to get a sneak peak at the magic system right away and then to be able to refer back to as I was reading. On top of that, Shadow and Bone has some pretty nifty magic types, like people who can manipulate certain materials to make otherwise impossible items.
- While the description makes it sound like there might be a love triangle, and I was nervous for a couple of pages, there isn’t the full angst and flip-flopping too typical of this genre.
- Not only did I like Alina from the beginning, I liked who she developed into and as found out so much more about herself and her power. She makes some bad decisions (a protagonist that isn’t perfect :D) and then tries to fix them as soon as she can. What an excellent role model ;-).
- The writing was fluid and compelling. I was always excited to find another hour to read (and even brought Shadow and Bone in the car just in case) and was able to read through it very quickly.
- Unfortunately, the plot twists were fairly predictable. There are fairly typical love is stronger than violence themes, which is nice, but again predictable.
- There are these special objects called amplifiers that, well, amplify power. However, they apparently don’t work exactly how everyone uses them for, and this was used to the villains advantage at one point, etc etc. I never was super clear on what the rules were for them, which I found disappointing. I like twists like this to make complete sense in retrospect, but I’m still confused. Anyone care to help me out?
- I was left with some questions about the basic workings of the magic system. For example the way the plot goes, it sounds like Grisha (the magic users) can pass on their power to their children, ie it’s genetic. However, Grisha are born to ungifted parents most of the time it seems. Do Grisha have children ever? If not, why not? I need genetic explanations, haha.
Shadow and Bone was such a fun fantasy story. I thought the Russian-inspired setting was done very well (though someone more versed on Russian culture may have a different opinion, who knows, haha). The characters were multi-dimensional and believable. I ended up quite liking how the romance played out, and I’m very excited to read the sequel and see that develop further! I hope that a couple of my questions get sorted out in the sequel, but that might not happen, haha.