{Review} Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone

by Leigh Bardugo
Published June 5th, 2012
Goodreads: See here
YA Fantasy

Plot at a Glance:

Book 1 of the Grisha TrilogyShadow and Bone tells the story of Alina Starkov, a young cartographer for the nation of Ravka’s armed forces. Ravka is at war, fighting an uphill battle against the deadly Shadow Fold; a swath of darkness teeming with blood-thirsty beasts. While Alina’s role in the battle against the Fold begins as a small one, she quickly finds herself at the center of events when a dormant power inside herself is revealed.

Carried away from the life she has always known, Alina is brought before the royal court to be trained as a Grisha, the magical elite led by the charismatic and mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in Ravka is quite as it appears on the surface, and Alina must learn to shine a light on secrets hidden in very dark places if she hopes to survive.


Leigh Bardugo, you’ve done it again!

Six of Crows captured my heart when I read it back at the end of January, yet this book took any established expectations I had and blew them out of the water! I know it’s kind of a weird opinion, but I ended up enjoying this slightly more than SoC. I do think this is entirely my fault, as I’m now convinced that I should have read this series first! If you’re wondering where to start, do yourself a favor and start here.

There is so much worldbuilding in this book that give a lot of events and characters in SoC context that I struggled to figure out for myself when I was reading that book. While SoC definitely feels more ambitious than this one in terms of the scope of the story, this book became more compelling for me personally because of the way the world is introduced, the characters and plotting.

The setting and magic system are both crazy good here. This is the perfect introduction to Ravka, and to the way the whole Grisha society works. Alina is such a great foil for the audience to experience the world through. As she becomes acquainted with things outside her realm of understanding, so too does the reader. It’s not confusing or over simplified either, it’s just casually injected into nearly every moment of the story; it all serves a purpose. Plus, I loved the gorgeous Russian vibes in this book, just as much as I did in SoC.

Speaking of Alina, can I just take this moment to point out how much I liked her? I really enjoyed that while she was powerful and those powers were very necessary to the plot, Leigh Bardugo makes the conscious choice to have those powers be entirely passive. She can’t cause harm with them, and can’t defend herself from harm, and yet she’s pivitol to events because of them. It allowed for the suspense to ramp up quite nicely, having a magically imbibed character in YA not be a total mary sue for once.

As great as Alina was, the Darkling was 10x better and definitely my favorite character in the story. This is a character with depth, who believes in his motivations fully and with conviction. I understood him, and related to him and in some strange ways even rooted for him. Also, as I said to Chelsea during our buddy read, it definitely felt like the Darkling was written with a heavy sexual subtext. It’s never erotic, and in fact I think many teens would completely miss it, but it’s present in every conversation he has with Alina and it makes this series a joy to read now, as an adult.

Lastly, the plotting itself is phenomenal. This is a real hero’s journey from start to finish. I was glad that Bardugo didn’t spend an outrageous amount of time showing us Alina’s training. Rather, she skips ahead in order to really get to the good stuff. It allowed Alina to do her natural growth in power off-screen, without boring the readers, which I appreciated. One pet peeve I have with a lot of YA stories pertaining to magic is that they get bogged down in trying to prove their character isn’t a Mary Sue by making them suffer and stink at training for the entire book, neglecting the plot. That isn’t the case here, as Bardugo briefly has Alina stuggle, but quickly moves her on so she can stuggle with actual plot points, rather than mindnumbing training.

I’m so excited to see where the story goes next! Onwards to book 2!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 5 stars out of 5, and a new favorite for me!

Have you read this? How did you feel about this series? Do you like it more or less than Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom?



47 thoughts on “{Review} Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Add yours

  1. Truthfully, I did not like this series as much as I enjoyed SOC. I think my issue was that I kept comparing the two. And I mean, you can’t since besides being in the same kind of universe, they’re so unlike each other. That’s where I think I went wrong, but your review was definitely so great and I totally missed what your friend Chelsea said until you put it in there. I can definitely see that. Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely think not reading this series first would hinder the enjoyment of SoC. It glosses over a LOT of information that is delved into at length here. I wish I had read it before SoC, and plan on finishing out this series before I read Crooked Kingdom.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! Bentley YES!!! I’m so happy you enjoyed this one. Seriously one of those worlds that sticks with you in such an epic way :). Is it weird that I have fantasized about taking a cruise across the shadow-fold on more than one occasion?!

    I hope you love the rest of the series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to see the Shadow Fold! It just sounded so cool. The world here was awesome. I didn’t mention it in my review because I didn’t want to get near any spoilers, but I really enjoyed all the stuff about morozova’s herd and the stag too. That was really cool.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review. I have sort of been scared away from fantasy and I don’t know why I have never really picked it up. Is  Leigh Bardugo a good place to star?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think so, but only if you start with this book. This book does a much better job than Six of Crows in explaining the world and the magic. It’s not a huge tome like some of the adult fantasy novels can be. I think it’s very approachable at only 300 something pages.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much, I want to test out fantasy but have no idea where to start and don’t want something too huge for my first time out.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m SO glad you liked it!! The Grisha trilogy is one of my favourite series ever and I enjoyed it so, so much. Plus the Darkling is my all time favourite character and I would totally let the world go dark and like… marry him or something 😀 I just have so much love for this series, it’s unreal 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent review Bentley! I do agree with you on The Darkling! The first book of the series was the best for me. Then it went downhill. I hope you’ll remain enthralled and that it will be a case of “it’s not you it’s me”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome review! Immediately added it to the TBR list. Question though – so does this world and SoC take place in the same worlds? I saw you mention to read this before SoC, thus figuring they intertwine? Again, great review! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely going to read Shadow and Bone first then! Thank you! It’s nice to know these kinds of things when reading books that are all connected in the same world 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved reading this review! I’ve already seen it on Goodreads but I just had to read it again because it’s so good! And I totally agree with everything you said! I’m so glad that you love the series and I can’t wait for you to read on and hear what you think! You’re going to meet my favourite character (whose name I can’t tell you) in Siege and Storm so that’s cool 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Is it bad that I have had this on my bookshelf for a few years? You review has me itching to pick it up sooner than later. I just feel terrible starting another series 😛 I have been really bad about not following through in a timely manner because I am such a mood reader. Stellar review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally am the same way. This book was sitting on my bookshelf for months before I even felt compelled to pick it up. I think the title is a bit generic, maybe? Not compelling enough to pull people in – but the book is much better than I expected for sure 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great review!! I love Leigh Bardugo’s books. ❤ I'm currently reading SoC right now. It's so nice to come back to her writing since it's been a bit since I've finished the Grisha trilogy. Your review makes me want to read it all over again though! 😛
    She's got a Wonder Woman novel coming out this summer I want to check out, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Omg I love this review. I’ve only read the first book in this series (why I haven’t finished it I have no idea) and I couldn’t agree more about the Darkling. i was squealing with delight at how subtly sexual he was. I totally rooted for him and Alina to get together because I’m a bad guy/good girl/boy type shipper. I can’t wait to see what you think of the others!

    Liked by 1 person

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