Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
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 fulfil 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?
I devoured this book. Bardugo’s world-building skills are incredible, and Ravka felt as real as any country I take a plane to. I loved the Russian (or what I’m presuming is Russian, forgive me) influence and the contrasts between the peasants and the Grisha. I was glad that Bardugo didn’t try to explain things too much and just make them confusing - she gave a good explanation that still left room for the imagination and left it at that. I’m even more glad that she pointed out the Grishas’ power was a sort of science, not really magic, even though it seemed that way.
The level of creativity that she put into the plot, setting, and characters added to the book tremendously. The one thing that I felt took away from it was the love interests, simply because neither of them really seemed to have been evidenced earlier. It’s just nitpicking, though, and I loved so many other things about this book that I don’t mind.
Alina’s story of finding her power and learning to control it, learning who to trust and who is deserving of mercy, is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Coupled with beautiful cover art and fascinating world-building (complete with a map of Ravka!), it’s absolutely captivating.
Once Upon a Time...
As a longtime lover of stories and a believer in the power and magic of books, I've spent my life seeking out the best reads. This blog is dedicated to reviewing the books I read - good, bad, or magnificent - to help other readers find their next favorite books.