Friday, June 01, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Shadow and Bone
Leigh Bardugo 
Series: The Grisha Trilogy #1
Release date: June 5th, 2012
by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Goodreads / Purchase

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.

*A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review purposes*

While fantasy can be a hit or miss for me, I’m glad that I’m able to add another one to my hit pile. When I started Shadow and Bone I was a bit intimidated by the strange new world; by the bizarre terms such as Corporalki and Keramzin, or the ones I can’t even pronounce (ie Otkazat’sya); and also by all this talk of the Shadow Fold that was obviously important but I didn’t completely understand. However, as the world building is more showing rather than telling, the more I read, the more I was able to grasp the complexities of this world until I realized I was completely caught up in it. Don’t get overwhelmed by the infodump at the start as this book ends up having a fascinating world that becomes highly picturesque, with an enchanting cast of characters that brings it to life.

The reason for me not always liking fantasy is how very politically drowning they can be. Political intrigue can only keep my interest for so long before I begin to snooze. Shadow and Bone is definitely not the case. It has a kingdom, yes, but it doesn’t come with the usual redundant monarchy debacles I’ve come to expect – and run from. In here, we’ve got the mysterious, and terrifying, Shadow Fold filled with nothing but nightmares; we have shocking twists that are both dark and breathtaking; and most of all, we have Alina.

Alina comes off being a fragile little thing who can seem quite naive. But when she’s suddenly thrown into a world so unlike her own, with no one to trust and an incredible power she didn’t know she had, things get serious – fast! Thus, we get to watch her grow into a brave and powerful young woman. I really enjoyed seeing her blossom right in front of my eyes. This is genuine character development that makes you acknowledge her fears as well as understand her mistakes. She’s easy to like and even easier to root for; the kind of heroine that makes the story!

Now on to The Darkling – ominous sounding, no? His dangerous aura fits his name! However, couple this with an alluring charm and we’ve got ourselves a very compelling character. I was never really sure how much trust to lend him which made him even more intriguing. I constantly found myself wanting to know more about this cryptic being. This is not singular to him, however, the whole story is very character driven with a big, powerful cast.

Yes we have some romance, yes it’s dreamy and precious and magnetic and agonizing and exasperating, yes this is all I’m saying.

There is a lot happening in this novel, so much so that it does skim the surface on a few things – I was especially hoping for a deeper knowledge of the Grisha and everything surrounding their purpose. The world building is absolutely attractive, though a lot of it is meant to entertain more than to perfect. But overall: Dark, gritty, yet filled with humoristic bits, Shadow and Bone is a fresh, action packed fantasy that is beautifully written and highly engrossing. This is one that actually lives up to the hype!

4 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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37 Responses to “Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo”

  1. Silverlight

    Great review! I love fantasies, especially w/ female heroines, it’s even better if they kick ass!
    I totally know where your coming from with the whole “political aspects” of some fantasy books, such a bore, and most of the time they ruin a great book, for me.
    I’m looking forward to starting this one soon. Thanks!

  2. Jasprit

    Fab review Giselle, thanks for the heads up on the info dumping at the beginning, sometimes books which are really tough to get into initially end up being the best reads! 🙂

  3. Amy

    I wasn’t sure about it since I sometimes have a hard time with fantasy. It sounds really good though. I will have to check it out sometime! Awesome review!!

  4. Danny

    OoOOOO I sooooo can’t wait for this book and I sooo want to meet The Darkling!

    And… OMG I want to read about this romance.. this sounds like exactly what I would hope for!! Dreamy, Precious and Magnetic!!!

    I’m sold!

  5. Katrina Marie

    I’m reading this now. I’ll keep going though. I just started it, and I’ve been straggling trying to remember everything. Great review. I can’t wait to get back into this book this evening.

  6. Mary @ BookSwarm

    You’re right–there was an amazing amount of plot packed into this book. I really enjoyed it (though I’m not thrilled with what’s going on romance-wise at the end…) and can’t wait to see what happens next. Great review!

  7. Katie @ BlookGirl

    ::dies:: I can’t wait to finally snag my own copy of Shadow and Bone when Leigh is here in 2 weeks. SO excited! Your review was everything I was expecting, which is a relief. Sometimes book become so hyped that when I actually read them, I’m a bit let-down. It doesn’t sound like this is the case with Shadow and Bone 🙂

    I know what you mean about not being intimidated by the infodump or strange terms. I’m currently reading The Book of Blood and Shadow and it’s certainly similar in that regard.

    Great review, love muffin! 🙂 <333

  8. Candace

    I loved this book so much so I’m glad you enjoyed it! I too loved her growth in the book and I loved/hated the twist! I saw it coming yet it managed to take me by surprise still.

  9. Helen Keeble

    I hadn’t heard of this one before, but it sounds really intriguing! I love complicated, detailed secondary-world fantasy in general, but haven’t seen that much recently in YA. I’ll have to check this out!

  10. Hannah Lorraine

    I love your review =) This book is so incredible and the world builidng was done so well it’s easy to forget that it is a fantasy. And YES to everything you said about the Darkling. He was so fascinating because he always did exactly the opposite of what I would expect. Kept me on my toes. And Alina is one of the best heroines ever. So glad you loved it!

  11. Nick

    I’ve heard nothing but praise for Shadow and Bone and I can’t wait to read the book myself, when it comes out this week. I love the sound of it. It’s a good thing that the book isn’t too heavy on the politics, because as you mentioned it can be a snooze. I also think I’m going to enjoy Alina’s character ! I can’t wait to finally meet her !
    Great review, Giselle ! 🙂

  12. A Canadian Girl

    Lol, I actually love political intrigue which is probably one reason why I love fantasies 🙂

    I’ve seen a couple reviews for this one now and they’ve all mentioned how great the MC is and how intriguing the Darkling is. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing this one soon.

  13. Aneeqah

    YES! I am SO glad that you enjoyed this one, Giselle. I’m definitely adding this to my pre-order list right now! I’ve heard some good things, but after reading your review, I definitely want to pick this one up now. Even though it sounds a bit confusing, I think I’ll end up falling in love with the world. I also love to see character development, and it seems like Alina develops quite well throughout the story. I’m so excited to read this one now. Fabulous review! =)

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  14. Alyssa

    I’m really glad you mentioned character building because I can’t tell you how many times I have read a fantasy (which I tend to always enjoy) where my eyes roll out of my head at the lack of character development! I have heard mostly amazing things about this one but also some not so good reviews, I am thrilled you said it lived up to the hype. I am definitely going to have to pick this one up sooner rather than later!

  15. Mimi Valentine

    Exactly right, Giselle! This book was such an amazing fantasy books because it wasn’t as politically boring as some fantasies can be — it was always bam, bam, BAM of awesomeness and I couldn’t put it down! LOL and I felt the same way about the Darkling! He was so mysterious and dark and cryptic, but I loved him wholeheartedly even though he was a little too dark haha 😉

    Amazing review, Giselle! 🙂 <3

  16. Shooting Stars Mag

    Oh I’m glad you enjoyed it! It sounds like an interesting story…something I think my sister would really enjouy. I love heroines that grow and become awesome…makes it MUCH more interesting to read. 🙂

    -Lauren

  17. Amber Hughes

    Wonderful review Giselle! I’m hoping to get this one in the near future. It’s a little different from my normal reads, but I’m still very interested in reading it 🙂

  18. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I was dying to read this one before, but after you review it’s unbearable! It just sounds so unique and the romance sounds awesome. I’ve heard from a few people that there is an infodump at the beginning and thought that would really turn me off but the way you describe it makes sense and I think I would appreciate it. Great review love!

  19. Sam

    I’m glad to hear you think this lives up to the hype! I love fantasy, so this was a favourite of mine. I’m glad to see it was a hit with you too! Great review girl! 🙂

  20. Evie

    Thrilled to hear that you liked it! I am yet to read it (I’ve been saying that quite a lot these days, hmm…), and I’ve heard some mixed reviews of it before. I am a sucker for fantasy, tho, so I’ll probably pick it up sooner or later 🙂 Thanks for featuring it!

  21. Julie

    Oh! I’m so glad you liked this one. I can’t wait for Shadow and Bone to come out. It’s one of the books I’m anticipating the most. Recently, I’ve gotten back into fantasy and I love it so much. It’s great that the politics weren’t as boring for you. Great review, Giselle.

  22. Cindy

    This sounds like something I would really like and I’ve seen quite a few positive reviews on it. I am glad you liked it. Great review 🙂

  23. bookworm105

    Can’t wait to read this! After reading this review I want to read it even more. I love the sound of Darkling (Serously? Love the name.) and the world of Shadow and Bone.

    Great review! =D

  24. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    I always love fantasy books, so this one is definitely something I will enjoy. I even liked the unpronouncable words, haha. Political stuff can be interesting, so I’m glad that you liked it in this book. Awesome review 🙂

  25. Michelle @ Book Briefs

    I got this one for review and I was on the fence about it. I just wasn’t sure the plot would keep me entertained. But after reading your review, I. Actually excited to read this one.. I think I may bump it up on my tbr pile.

    As always, thanks for the great review Giselle 🙂

  26. Sarah (saz101)

    Oh, Giselle! This sounds AMAZING! I’m totally a fantasy fan, but I think it’s a GREAT sign when someone who professes not to be loves a book. AMAZING! xx

  27. Annabelle Marie Veronica

    I want to read this one so badly, and it sounds like it won’t disappoint! Swoon-worthy romance, a strong heroine with an awesome character arc, a charming but dangerous boy…sounds like my ideal book! It’s always nice when the world-building is good, too. Fantastic review!

  28. Christina

    “Yes we have some romance, yes it’s dreamy and precious and magnetic and agonizing and exasperating, yes this is all I’m saying. “

    Precisely. You are so right about that.

    I was totally obsessed with the Darkling, but Mal is also awesome. My heart, it is torn. Ahhhhh!

  29. Lena

    Love your review!!! I like dark and humor books!!! I do like fantasies and fairy tales retellings. So this book us on my reading list:)