Book Review – Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha #1

Grisha #1

‘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.’ (Goodreads) (358 pages, 5th June 2012, Henry Holt & Co.)

I was quite surprised by this book. I went into it not knowing what to expect and heard a lot of different opinions about this book. Either you love it, or you hate it. I luckily loved it. I won’t say that it is high literature, but it is an enjoyable read and one that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

I liked how Leigh Bardugo took the Russian culture and made it her own. It fits perfectly well with the story and you can just imagine how the world looks like. By keeping it simple and not describing to much how everything looks, she captures the essence of the story and of the world she created. I feel you don’t need a lot of explanation to understand how everything works and that made this story so easy to read and to enjoy.

Alina, our main character, seems a little bit pathetic at first. She clings to her beliefs and wishes that everything remains as it is and when she has difficulties, she stagnates instead of rising up to the occasion to prove her worth. But I have to say she grew on me. As the story progresses we discover everything together with her. How her powers work, how she needs to manage her new-found fame, how to handle the haters around her… It’s a difficult world to live in and Alina, being used to be unnoticed, doesn’t really know how to handle her new life and it takes her a long time to find her way. But it’s entertaining to read about her journey and Leigh Bardugo really takes her time to get to know Alina and feel sympathetic toward her.

And the Darkling, let me tell you about the Darkling. I have no idea how to feel about this character. One time I love him, the other I hate him. He plays with Alina’s feelings of insecurity to get what he wants, but sometimes he does it in a way that make you feel sympathetic toward him and I think he became one of my favorite characters ever.

The entire time you read this story, you kind of know where it is heading. It is the first book in a trilogy and the setup is very clear, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. It’s interesting enough to keep you entertained and it still has enough turns to surprise you.

4 out of 5 stars 

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