Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Verse, #1)Title: Shadow and Bone 
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publishing Date: June 5th 2012
Pages: 358
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Series:  The Grishaverse #1
Source: Audio
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.

I am a very late bloomer for this book. I have seen some rally grand reviews and then a couple that stated the book was slow. I find many fantasies are slow for so I was a little deterred from this read. I finally decided to give it a listen. The narrator was really good and that helped the read. I did enjoy this story but not as much as I had hoped. It was slow for me and did lack in some world building and character connection, however there was light at the end of the tunnel for me. 
Alina grew up in an orphanage. The only real family she had was her best friend, Mal. Once they are teenagers they are put in the real world within jobs that suit them. Alina is a map artist and Mal a tracker. On a quest across the very dangerous Fold, Mal gets hurt and Alina finds a power she didn't know she had to save Mal. This power is very rare among the Grisha. She is then taken by the lead Grisha, the Darkling and trained to use her power. The Darkling takes notice of her and she becomes his favorite. She is smitten. Of course nothing is at it seems, she finds there is trouble brewing and must make some pretty dire decisions and save herself and her the one she truly loves. 

I am going to get down to the nitty gritty and say what I didn't like much. The pacing was very slow for me. It was just okay for the majority of the read. It wasn't until the last hour or two I really got into the story. I felt for most of the book, nothing happened. I would have been okay with this if there were a ton of would building and character development going on but instead it just felt like a lot of filler. There really wasn't any meat to the story until the very end. Much of the read could have been cut out to make a shorter read or used differently to really build the story. It is because of this that I couldn't connect to the characters at first.

The world and story were interesting but I felt it was incomplete. I wanted to know more about the Grisha, the Darkling, the Fold, the magic, but I was only teased with a little. It wasn't enough to really get me to understand or connect. I think more world building was needed. Especially for this magical world that was complicated to understand.

The main character Alina, I liked her enough. Again though, I felt there was too much filler and not enough character development to really know her and connect to her. She was brave and curious and headstrong. All great qualities but she also felt cold to me... at least until the end where she really showed her true colors. Maybe  there was a point to this, maybe her discovering what was in her but I almost felt like well, where in the world did that come from.

I could have used more character development and more character interactions. Most of the time I was just in Alina's head and I would think that would connect me to her... but it really didn't. I didn't feel like I totally understand or knew Alina or any of the other characters.

What little Mal was in the story, I liked him. Maybe if there was more of him it would have been better for me. He was charming, and sweet, and loyal, and pretty dang awesome. In fact it wasn't until he really came into the story that I started to really like the story. He woke it up for me for sure.

Once all the crazy went down, it went down. Alina blossomed and the ending fight scene was pretty epic. The romance came through and the bonds were created or accentuated. Once everything started to really happen it all came together and just clicked. It just took a while to get there. I loved the ending. I feel it was at the end I finally appreciated the characters, the story , and the world.

So it was worth it to get through the slow to get to the ending. I feel the next book may just be excellent.

It was the ending that changed my rating for me. The ending was that good. Also it may seem like I only liked the ending. The rest of the book was interesting, just slow. I never felt like giving up. I did need to know how it all worked out. I am glad I did.

Slow to get through but well worth it. 

Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows Duology and the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

She would be delighted if you followed her on Twitter, elated if you visited her web site, and fairly giddy if you liked her selfies on Instagram.


  1. Yes! A fellow Mal fan! Woohoo! So many people hate him, and it makes me sad... :(

    Thanks for visiting Shell's Stories!

  2. HURRAY! I get so excited every time I read a new review for this series! I am so excited for you to finish the series! Add me to the "hates Mal" list. XD


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