Series: The Grisha Trilogy #1
Length: 369 pages
Reviewing Kindle, Hardcover from My Book Shelf
Reading Challenges: COYER 2021
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold—a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.
Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite—and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.
As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.
Welcome to Ravka . . . a world of science and superstition where nothing is what it seems.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is the first in The Grisha Trilogy and the book that started the Grishaverse. I devoured this book. There’s no other way to say it. It has everything I look for in my YA fantasy books: a well, thought-out magical world, political intrigue leading to potential war, the promise of action to come, and a little romance. Starting and ending on an explosive note, Shadow and Bone is sure to be a favorite of many fantasy fans.
Alina Starkov is a mapmaker in the king’s First Army. At the border of the Shadowfold, she’s preparing to make her first crossing of the Unsea when we meet her. An orphan who has never fit in, Alina is shy with little self-confidence. Her love for Mal, her only friend and fellow orphan, keeps her going. However the crossing brings with it dangers, and soon Alina’s long held secret comes to light. She is a Grisha, a fabled Sun Summoner, someone who can heal the Shadowfold and make Ravka whole again. Or at least that is what she is told…
The Darkling is a mysterious figure. Head of the king’s Second Army and the most powerful Grisha, the Darkling is surrounded in myth and peasant tales. When Alina is brought before him, he takes a quick interest. Her power is the opposite of his. Where Alina summons light, he summons darkness. Together, he claims, they can save Ravka. Separated from Mal and no word from him, Alina enters the world of the Grisha, learning to harness her powers for the good of her country.
The pacing of this one moves quickly. I started reading it one evening and wound up sitting and finishing it in the early hours of the morning. I love Alina, even if she is a bit naive. And the Darkling…oh my! This character is perfection. I cannot wait to see Ben Barnes bring him to life on the new Netflix series. Perfect casting!
But I digress, this story is so good from start to finish. The world-building is immersive so as you read and Alina encounters things the author explains them. There are no large info dumps, instead the information is integrated seamlessly within the story. And there are SO many characters I love: Genya, Mal, Baghra, even Alexei. There are no 2-d side characters, each is fully fleshed out and relatable. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.
Overall, I really enjoyed Shadow and Bone. I went in with zero expectations because I’d heard both good and bad about the series. I enjoyed Six of Crows, so I’ll admit I had some hopes. This book hit the sweet spot for me, containing the right amount of magic, action, and romance. I’m looking forward to diving into Siege and Storm.
*COYER Community: I buddy read this one with Lenore @ Celebrity Readers. I kinda ran ahead of her which is my norm. Sorry Lenore! I couldn’t stop reading! I will update with a link to her review once she is finished.