winged reviews
Review, Young Adult / June 3, 2013
Shadow and Bone by Leigh BardugoShadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Publisher: Indigo
Date: June 2012
305 pages
Source: Review copy from publisher
Genres: Fantasy
Buy the BookGoodreads

Originally published in the UK as The Gathering Dark.

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?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

I originally read this book when it debuted last year and loved it. Shadow and Bone had everything I wanted in a fantasy—a uniquely imagined world, fantastic characters, and great writing. After having the pleasure of re-reading the book recently (thanks to the lovely team at Indigo’s 2-in-1 mega ARC), I need to caps, bold and add an exclamation mark to my original assessment: I LOVED IT! I know it’s hard to imagine, but it was even better the second time around.

Shadow and Bone is the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan girl who finds out she’s so much more. She is Grisha, a master of the Small Science and a very special one at that—someone gifted with the unique ability to stop the Shadow Fold, a dark wasteland that blocks the country’s only access to the True Sea.

I found the world of Ravka genuinely fascinating. It’s been said countless times but it is extremely rare to find a fantasy book set in a place that isn’t reminiscent of medieval England. This book brought tsar-punk into our lexicon, which is a magical mix of military fur, snow-covered forests, mysterious regal animals and smouldering men in black. Plus I really want one of those Grisha kefta robes to lounge around in.

Also, I can’t remember the last time I read a book with such a charming cast of characters. Alina’s self-doubt combined with her low threshold for taking crap from others makes a really entertaining combination. I instantly rooted for her and her self-deprecating humour. The book also brought us The Darkling, the perfect anti-villain who oozed charisma and power. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t seduced by his dark charm. I also held a soft spot for Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend, whose friendliness and easy-going way made him instantly likable. And even with them all, my favourite character was gorgeous, confident Genya. I wanted to be her AND be her best friend. She’s like a silk dress boned with a corset of steel—beautiful and fierce. I really loved her friendship with Alina and her unique position in the palace.

The writing is wonderfully rich. Bardugo has a knack for immersing you completely in her world within seconds and keeping you glued to the page with her compelling story. The dialogue was simply delightful—from the sarcastic snark, to the declarations of love, to the world-changing proclamations—all infused with that twinkle of humour and passion that Bardugo has in spades. The book is so damn quotable that it is impossible for me to pick my favourite.

If you haven’t read Shadow and Bone yet, I hope this review has given you enough reasons to do so. If you still aren’t convinced, let me take you out for some kvas and let’s talk.

4.5 Stars

10 Responses to Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Samina says:

    I loved this book too. There should be more books like this out there.
    My recent post Review: The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

  2. achoquet says:

    I actually just bought this book for my birthday, so am excited to see another positive review for it! I have to finish reading my current book, but I think with the sequel being released for this one that it'll be next on my reading list. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did! Especially since you still loved this and it was a reread!
    My recent post Bookish Reunion: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories [Reread and Review]

    • Daphne says:

      I hope you enjoy it too! The odd thing was I think I enjoyed it MORE on reread and after reading the sequel so the series just keeps getting better for me 🙂

  3. Helen says:

    This book has been sitting on my night stand for almost a month now! haha. I haven't gotten to it simply because it always sounded a little more 'high fantasy' than I normally read – but I'll definitely bump it up on my TBR list now. With the sequel coming out, I've been seeing more and more raving reviews for this series!
    My recent post Armchair BEA 2013: Ethics

  4. Sarah says:

    So many people have good things to say about this book so I've been dying to read it! I read a sample in a little anthology thing for my Kindle and really enjoyed it. Fantasy is definitely a genre I need to read more of 🙂 lovely review – definitely made me want to read it even sooner!

    • Daphne says:

      Thanks Sarah. As I mentioned to Helen above, it's not really high fantasy, and it shouldn't scare any non-fantasy lovers away. Glad you liked the sample and hope you love the book! 🙂

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