Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

February 6, 2014 2014, B, book rating, reviews 4

I’m participating in the 2014 New Author Reading Challenge hosted at the Literary Escapism blog. This is the first time I’ve read anything by Leigh Bardugo.

I’m also participating in the TBR Pile Challenge hosted by the Bookish blog. I bought this book on my Kindle in 2013. This book also goes onto the Book Bingo reading challenge hosted by Kristilyn from the Reading in Winter blog and Anne from Creativity’s Corner.

shadow-and-boneShadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha , Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published by Henry Holt and Company , 2012
E-book, Purchased
358 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unraveling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

“How did you fare with the Queen?” he asked.
“I have no idea,” I said honestly. “Everything she said was perfectly nice, but the whole time she was looking at me as if I were something her dog spit up.”


“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”

What worked for me:

  • The beginning of the book–the comradery of the army marching toward the mysterious and dangerous Shadow Fold.
  • I like Mal as a tracker and Alina as a map maker. Those are different from normal army occupations and have use throughout the book.
  • The Shadow Fold–dark, dangerous, mysterious–and the mystery of Alina’s reaction to it.
  • The Darkling is a mysterious character. Just who is he and what does he want Alina to do? He seems certain she will save the world, but how?
  • Alina is pulled between her memories of Mal and the reality of The Darkling. Did she really love Mal? What does she feel for the Darkling?
  • Alina is thrust into the pampered world of the Grisha and must fight to try to fit in and try to figure out what her power is and how it works.
  • The Ravka court–King and Queen–seem weak and even corrupt. Should they be saved?
  • The Russian-like setting although the author doesn’t make too much use of it other than with names, snow, troikas, tsars.
  • Each part of the book is unique–something I like and don’t like at the same time! In the end I thought there were enough unique elements that I like the book.

What didn’t work:

  • The middle of the book as Alina tries to figure out how to use her powers and fit in with the other Grishas is quite similar to other “coming of age” stories.
  • The beginning, middle and end are each very distinct–but once in those parts they are preditable and I was pretty sure how they would end.

My thoughts:

This is a pretty typical young adult fantasy…lots of fantasies right feature young women (or young men) who find they have some sort of magical power which may save their country or world if they can figure out how to use it. The trick for the author is to put some sort of twist on the story to make it different from others. Most of this book feels more young adult than fantasy.

I like Shadow and Bone though the middle of the book at the school for the Grisha is quite similar to other coming of age stories. Alina has to figure out her power, there are cliques and petty jealousies at the school and the Darkling is a mysterious, but handsome individual. I like the beginning of the story best with the descriptions of the army and Mal who is a tracker and Alina who is a map maker. The description of the Shadow Fold and the disastrous journey of Mal, Alina and others in the army when they try to cross it is described well.

I also bought the next book in the series–Siege and Storm–in 2013 and plan to read it sometime this year.

Have you read this book? How do you like it?

4 Responses to “Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo”

  1. Lark

    Nice review, Jan. I haven’t read this yet, and I’m still debating whether I want to. It seems to follow a lot of the typical YA fantasy tropes (including a love triangle [grimaces]) but at the same time, there are some more original elements. Perhaps I’ll wait until the entire series is complete.
    Lark recently posted…The Month of Letters ChallengeMy Profile

  2. Nathan (

    I will admit, and maybe it is because I don’t read much YA, that the familiar tropes didn’t bother me much in this book. But I was not as big a fan of the second in the series, it seemed to loose a bit of the intelligence this one showed. Still, Shadow and Bone was one of the better YA reads I have had recently.
    Nathan ( recently posted…Fantasy Review: ‘Blood and Iron’ by Jon SprunkMy Profile