Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone

(The Grisha Trilogy #1)
Leigh Bardugo
Paranormal Young Adult/Fantasy
368 pages
Henry Holt and Co.
Available June 5th
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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 an intriguing combination of dark fairy tale and classic adventure story, charming us with a little magic and a touch of romance while subtly appealing to the side of us that relishes a sense of foreboding, proving to us just how much of a glutton for punishment we really are that the grim side of things would attract us so strongly. While we're gleefully distracted by the enchanting world of the Grisha and the discovery of Alina’s latent and entirely unique gift, Ms. Bardugo skillfully channels her Darkling character – weaving dark tendrils of doubt in and through the shiny newness of Alina’s world and planting seeds that grow with each page we read until we finally start to see what all the glitter and the wealth are masking. Light and dark both play off one another as well as face off against each other in this tale, combining to create beauty, safety, and protection just as easily as they cause pain, death, and destruction, and we read on with breath held to see just what degree of light and dark we’ll see next.

A loner her whole life, Alina is a young woman we can easily picture ourselves befriending were she to be someone we met in our everyday lives, her sense of alienation from all those around her, even her best friend Mal, radiating in waves strong enough to knock us over as she travels from one location and one phase of her life to the next no closer to finding a true home or family than she was previously. Her sense of solitariness only serves to make our connection to her feel all the more intimate–as though we alone know all her secrets and would gladly guard them against anyone we deem unworthy of her–and we devour the pages rooting for her to find someone or someplace to call her own. She’s got a smart mouth, an unrelenting determination, and an innate vulnerability; qualities that blend together to create a woman who doesn’t despair of her lot in life, and instead continually searches for something better for herself no matter how often it remains just beyond her reach.

It’s Alina’s palpable loneliness that ratchets up the intensity of what might otherwise be a more understated romantic thread, her unrequited love for Mal creating a hole in us from the first chapter, with each subsequent page acting as an emotional leech draining us until our emptiness echoes Alina’s own. Once we’ve quickly reached bottom Mal exits the picture and the Darkling enters it, his complex nature piquing our interest as surely as it does Alina’s, and slowly but surely his small attentions—enhanced by the physical and political power he wields—begin to fill both of us one drop at a time, and our emotionally dehydrated bodies absorb each taste with an increasing voraciousness until we can barely contain our need to be in the Darkling’s presence. Only when we’re starting to feel blissfully full do things shift yet again, emotions flung chaotically in a million different directions as the tentative comfort Alina’s found as a Grisha comes tumbling down around her.

Shadow and Bone is an extraordinary beginning to the Grisha Trilogy, one brimming with action, magic, and matters of the heart to ensure every part of us is fully engaged from opening words to concluding sentiments.

Rating: 4.5/5


  1. ooOOo I so ..sooooo cannot wait to read this!!!!! You giving it a 4.5 - jeeez! I want this book now! I didn't give it much though until I read a few glowing and raving reviews... and you had me :

    "It’s Alina’s palpable loneliness that ratchets up the intensity of what might otherwise be a more understated romantic thread, her unrequited love for Mal creating a hole in us from the first chapter, with each subsequent page acting as an emotional leech draining us until our emptiness echoes Alina’s own

    ... I want to feell this... right now! Totallyl up for an epic fantasy read like this!

  2. I am so excited to read this. Alina sounds like a great character. Plus I've heard that it incorporates Russian mythology.
    Just a few more days until we meet!

  3. Such a beautiful review! I agree that this one had some awesome ( or not so awesome) surprises. The big twist felt like one I should have seen coming, but yet I didn't. Not really. So glad you loved it too!

  4. YES! I'm so happy that you liked this one Jenny! It's been on my wish-list a while now but the fact that you liked it so much makes me even more excited to pick it up! Awesome review! :)

  5. Isn't this book just amazing?? It's one of my favourite books of the year just because the world is so amazing, and that's not even counting how awesome the characters were too! You nailed describing Alina -- she was so easy to connect with for all the reasons you stated and more. And please excuse me while I swoon a bit for Mal & Alina's sweet sweet sweet relationship! x) (I actually kind of want to swoon for the Darkling too LOL)

    Beautiful review, Jenny! <3 :)

  6. Fantastic review, Jenny! This book is new to me; I've never heard of it, but am going to add it to my TBR list immediately. I haven't read any books with Russian mythology- I am definitely intrigued!

  7. Jenny, you wreak havoc on my Amazon wishlist. *bounces off to add this book to the list*

  8. I am just blown over by that review......ARGH, so today Ill buying this so it will be at my door by the 5th!!! Cant wait, cant wait, cant wait....

    LOL- if you have one of those smartphones it should be calling you Review God~

  9. Danny - I just adored this one! The Darkling was such an interesting character, I can't wait for you to read so we can talk about him!

    Alison - CAN'T WAIT TO MEET YOU! And I hope you love this one as much as I did:)

    Candace - I didn't really see it either. Totally should have, but I was so caught up in everything else and I love that she was able to surprise me:)

    Jasprit - I LOVED this one, it wasn't at all what I expected and I highly recommend it:)

    Mimi - Definitely. And I will swoon over the Darkling with you:) And Mal too of course!

    Christina - YES! DON'T MISS OUT ON IT!

    Amanda - My mission in life is now complete then:)

    Tina - YES!!! I really hope you love it, it just blew me away:)

  10. So excited for this one-I have a copy and am hoping to dive into it this weekend. All of the reviews I've read have been very positive about the magic, the setting, the plot, and the characters, which makes me very optimistic.

  11. Oooooh colour me intrigued! I've heard a lot of hype about this one, of course, but I've also read a couple positive reviews lately from people I trust (such as yourself!), which makes me think this one will be really interesting. Can't wait to read it!

  12. Jenny, you have such a way with words! If I wasn't already planning to read this one, you'd probably convince me to :)

    I love fantasies and I like the way that this has both dark and light elements. Alina sounds like a MC you can fully support and I'm looking forward to meeting the Darkling.

  13. I like how you put that--that light and dark interweave and play off one another. Really true in this novel. Such a fantastic book--beautifully written and plotted. Can't wait for more!

  14. Bookworm - YAY! Hope you love it:)

    Jennifer - It was:) One of my favorites for the year so far:)

    Ashley - I just loved it. It was really different:)

    Z - Thank you! And the Darkling might be a new favorite character - he's just so interesting.

    Mary - Me either! I need book 2 yesterday:)

  15. Your review is fantastic! I was going to read this one fairly soon but you've definitely moved this up on my TBR! :) I can't wait to read about all these characters. Alina sounds great!

  16. Fantastic review! Loved this bosok as well. I loved the whole idea of powers and magic. I agree that her love for Mal is sweet. I so want it to be more. Hopefully it will grow more in the next book.

  17. Absolutely lovely review Jenny! I'm really exited for this book! I'm very curious on what Alina's unique special power is.

  18. I skimmed your review because I am reading this book next! I can't wait. I have countless reviews on this and almost everyone seems to love it. I will come back and compare notes with you next week! Have a great weekend, Jenny!

  19. Honestly, Jenny, how do you manage to write such beautiful reviews? Can I please have your writing talent? Seriously! Haha, anyway, I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I plan on reading this book soon. I've heard so many great things about it, though, that I'm a bit intimidated. Hopefully, I'll love it as much as you did! Thanks for the amazing review, Jenny. <3 :)

  20. Katie - Thank you! I hope you do move it up your TBR, it's awesome:)

    Savy - Thanks! I'm really interested to see where things go with Mal too:)

    Rachel - Her gift is very cool, I loved how she and the Darkling related to one another with their abilities:)

    Heidi - YES!!! Come let me know what you think!

    Sophia - *blushes* Thank you so much, I can't tell you how much I appreciate that! I hope you love it too, I always get nervous starting a book that's gotten all glowing reviews.

  21. I want! I want!

    Can I say I love your writing? "...begin to fill both of us one drop at a time, and our emotionally dehydrated bodies absorb each taste with an increasing voraciousness until we can barely contain our need to be in the Darkling’s presence." LOVE that!

    Btw, did I tell you I want to read this book? ;D

  22. Ah, Shadow and Bone, book of my heart. I loved it so much! The whole concept was fascinating, and I loved Alina. Your review pretty much sums up my thoughts. <3

  23. Your review is amazing, Jenny! This is one of my favourite books of the year so far and it puts a huge smile on my face to see you adored it too. The Darkling was an interesting character to say the least. I love what Leigh did with him. Can't wait for the next book! :)

  24. Gah! Why are all these books with similar titles coming out? My little mind has now exploded.

    I confused this book with The Book of Blood and Shadow, and since most the reviews I've read for it haven't been that positive, and I was looking forward to comparing your take, but then as I started to read your review, I realized it that it didn't sound like the same story then I realized it wasn't the same book, then I sat here stumped for a minute. Then I felt the need to explain all this to you. *sighs*

    Know any good brain doctors? If so, are they single?

    Okay, now this is a story I think I'd devour. I love the way you've described this Darkling. I'm feeling the need! And extra points for using voraciousness. You and your SEXY words, Jenny. I can't help myself. *brain lix*

  25. I have heard so many good things about this one and seeing your review made me more excited to read this book. You made it sound so extraordinary and something that would totally devour readers. I'm so looking forward for this book! Amazing review, Jenny! :)

  26. I've read a lot of great reviews of this one from some especially picky bloggers. The mythology or fairy lore or whatever you want to call it is very appealing. Guess I'll catch up when book two rolls around! Obviously you really liked it and the main character. That's always key for me.


  27. The cover reminds me of the The Night Circus. I heard one negative review and the rest positive. I think I'd like to try this one. I do love a sense of foreboding in my books and grimness!

  28. This has been getting high marks everywhere. This sounds amazing. Can't wait to read it. Lovely review Jenny. :)

  29. Ok now you got my attention :D I am always up for fantasy and this is the first I have read about this book

  30. I've been in my closet for so long I haven't seen this book before. (that sounds like an odd confession).

    It sounds absolutely fabulous and the dark nature of the book seems like something that would make an excellent setting for such a creative tale. Alina and Mal sound fascinating and I love the way you describe their relationship. It actually sounds like a book I'd want to read.(even if the naked is prevalent throughout. ;) LOL)

  31. GREAT review! What you said about Alina's being solitary and letting us into her world and how the reader is the only one who knows her secrets - goodness me that's exactly what I want to read! I love when I feel very close to a character like that.

    Thanks for the awesome review! :D

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  32. Ooh, I just about swooned over your review. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about this book - not quite sure whether or not I was interested enough to add this to my TBR, but your review just swayed me. Your depiction of Alina more than won me over - she sounds like a character whose journey I would definitely want to undertake with her. Fantastic review - as per usual Jenny. :)

  33. wow, it is been a while since i visit your blog and it look like i missed so many thing :)

    This book sound so great ,,, I only receive it today and I'm planning to read it soon ,,, AWESOME review as always. :)

  34. Ohhhh I want this one !! It sounds amazing, thanks for the lovely review Jenny :) !

  35. I want to read this badly. Heard a lot about the story. Great review!

  36. Sounds like something I would love to read. I'm definitely putting this one in my tbr pile. Alina is my kind of heroine. Awesome review, Jenny!