Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Series: The Grisha #1
Publication Date: June 5th 2012
ISBN: 9780805094596
Page Count: 356
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: Audiobook
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Synopsis: 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.


Shadow and Bone

With its interesting and original magical premise, realistically drawn characters, and a well-constructed yet cleverly divided world, SHADOW AND BONE was a very pleasant surprise that kept me entertained from page one to the very end, with nary a slow spot in between. 

On the surface, it may have occasionally seemed reminiscent of other books I've read in this genre, and even had a few ideas/tropes that are perhaps starting to become a bit too predictable within it—ordinary girl discovers she's a super special snowflake with gargantuan powers she knew nothing about, being the most obvious one, but there were others, too. But thankfully, there was just enough of a new spin on them, and, more importantly, the characters were interesting and endearing enough, that they suddenly seemed fresh and revitalized somehow. Even for someone who's, admittedly, read more than her fair share of this genre's offerings.

What I particularly enjoyed was the conflict regarding the magic users versus the non-magic users. The way they were either revered of feared depending on which side you were on. Those without power covet it. Those with power just want yet more power. And of course, there's always some nutjob who just wants to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! It just wouldn't be the same without one, really, and this book is no different. The bad guy, though....he/she/they were the perfect kind of bad guy—my favourite kind. The kind that you find yourself wavering over and occasionally even agreeing with, despite your better instincts. The baddie with the slight chance of redemption is like the sweetest of temptations that this reader simply cannot resist. I just love me a good antihero. A villain you love to hate and hate to love. So I enjoyed that aspect a lot.

As well as personal conflicts on the small scale, the split kingdoms are also set up perfectly for future epicness and large scale battles, and the whole idea of the Shadow Fold and the Unsea captured my imagination wonderfully. I can't wait to see what Bardugo plans to do with it all. It's the perfect rough canvas to drop a young heroine with brand new powers on and say "Now fix it, missy!". So I'm sure there is a lot more to come because, as with most first books in a series, this one had a lot of character and world set-up to do, but the potential is huge.

So, as you can see there was a lot to enjoy, so why only 4 stars? Well, it really boils down to just one thing—my lack of connection the the main character.

Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the heck out of Alina, and don't actually have anything negative to say about her (perhaps with the exception of some occasional childish stubbornness, but even that I can forgive). And, like I said up top, she is a well-written and realistic character (even with the super special snowflake aspect, she was still likable). BUT, if I'm being totally honest, I felt ever so slightly detached from her. She was all things a nice heroine should be; brave, selfless, even self-deprecating and funny. But for whatever reason, I didn't find myself wanting to champion her like I have with other heroines from similar titles (Neryn from Shadowfell by Marillier being the first to come to mind—Egads, I loved that frickin' book!). For me, Alina was just "okay", but didn't inspire me further than that.

Still, if you normally like this kind of YA historical fantasy whatchamawhosit, or if you just enjoy a good old magical adventure with a sweet little dash of romance thrown in, you should definitely give SHADOW AND BONE a go. It has a lot going for it, and with more time I'm sure Alina could work her little wily way further into my heart to take this from a good read, to a really great one. The kind you finish and want to start right back at the beginning. That's what I'm hoping for when I continue with the next book, Siege and Storm, and I will of course let you know how I get on:)

My rating - 4 Stars ★★★★

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