Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance,
Date of Publication: June 5th, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Length: 358 pages
My rating: 3/5
****Warning: This review contains some more spoiler-y aspects, since this book is older****
Wow, my memory is either absolutely fried, or I’ve just read too many books. This is my second series reread this year, and once again, I barely remembered the story from my original read-through! That being said, sometimes forgetting the story can actually be a blessing, since it allowed me to experience the plot with fresh eyes.
I think that Leigh Bardugo does a good job with her world-building; Ravka is decently complex without hitting Lord of the Rings levels of confusing, which I appreciate. The concept of magical beings who are used by the ‘normal’ citizens, disliked while also ‘respected’ because of their abilities, isn’t anything new, but it’s handled well enough that I wasn’t bored out of reading it. The characters are also decent enough that it kept my interest, but I can see why this story wasn’t burned into my brain forever.
The plot follows a pretty standard fantasy outline: The main character finds out they are magical, in fact they are extremely powerful, thus ostracizing them from both their old normal friends and the new magical group they are a part of. Have at least 4 chapters of the main character learning to control their powers, which involves some level of personal development and mentoring from wise old people. There is obviously a lot of pressure on them because the fate of the world depends on them using this new power, and also they get bullied, because why not. There is a love triangle, one is a ‘normal’ person from their old life, one is new and dark and edgy (in this case literally ‘dark’). There is a twist! (Cue *Gasp*) and then we set up for the next book in the series. Now insert the name Alina, and swap ‘Grisha’ for magical group, and you have Shadow and Bone.
I’m not saying it’s a bad story, it’s just…pretty basic. I think Shadow and Bone manages to hold interest with what is otherwise a pretty standard storyline. It’s not overly deep, so if you’re looking for an average fantasy read, it’s worth a shot. It’s likely that this is the reason why it got a TV series adaptation, it definitely has appeal for a larger group of people. And from what I’ve seen so far, they have a somewhat diverse cast, so it’s probably worth a shot too. I didn’t absolutely adore Shadow and Bone, but I didn’t hate it either. I just thought it was fine. I’m going to try and finish the series since I’m already 1/3 of the way through, so maybe it will get better (I honestly can’t remember).
Have you had a chance to read Shadow and Bone? Are you planning on watching the series? Let me know in the comments!