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Leigh Bardugo – Shadow and Bone

May 29, 2017

23. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (2012)
The Grisha Trilogy, Book 1

Read By: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 8h 55min (416 pages)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 06 June 2016
Finished: 14 June 2016

Where did it come from? Audible.
Why do I have it? I don’t remember where I heard about it first, but I read a few of Leigh Bardugo’s short stories from Tor and quite enjoyed them, so when this was a daily deal, I picked it up.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 30 Nov 2015.

Only the power
of light can save Ravka from
literal darkness.

Summary: Alina grew up with Mal, two orphans in the Duke’s household. Now that they’re older, they’ve both joined the army – Mal as a tracker, and Alina as an assistant cartographer, neither nearly as powerful or important as the Grisha with their magic abilities. Alina has started to see Mal as something more than just a lifelong friend, but he remains oblivious. Together, their regiment is sent across the Shadow Fold – a strip of unnatural darkness populated by terrible monsters, that cuts the country of Ravka off from the sea. When the monsters attack, in order to save Mal, Alina unleashes a great power – the ability to summon light – that she didn’t know she possessed. As this ability is extraordinarily rare, Alina is spirited away from her regiment and taken to the royal court, where she will be trained as a Grisha. The Darkling – the mysterious man in charge of the Grisha – is particularly interested in her training, and Alina finds herself strangely attracted to him… feelings which he, unlike Mal, seems to return. But as Alina gains more and more control of her power, and becomes more and more attracted to the Darkling, she learns that all is not what it seems in Ravka, and the secrets she discovers have the potential to destroy not only those Alina loves, but the country itself.

Review: Although the a lot of the blurbs on the covers talk about how unique and original this book is, I didn’t entirely agree. On the one hand, I have not read much (any?) fantasy set in a Russian-inspired setting (except for Russian fairy tales, obviously). That element of the story, I really enjoyed. However, on a plot level, I found this book to be fairly predictable. Fun, and engaging enough to keep me reading, but not particularly original, compelling, or ultimately all that memorable. I had a pretty good handle on at least the broad strokes of the plot from pretty early on, both in terms of some of the emotional beats, but also in terms of what the “shocking” secrets and betrayals etc. that Alina uncovers were going to be. I did appreciate that even though this book is the first in a trilogy, it has a pretty good story arc all on its own. Towards the end it was looking like it was going to leave it on a cliffhanger, which is not out of keeping with the genre, but it wound up coming to a pretty satisfying conclusion. Not everything is resolved, of course (although the answers to some of the unresolved questions are pretty obvious; see above re: predictability), but there’s enough sense of closure to make this book satisfying on its own. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I enjoyed this book well enough to be interested in reading the sequels, but not enough to move them to the top of my list (clearly, as it’s almost a year later and while I’ve bought them, I still haven’t read them). It’s a solid entry into the (admittedly crowded) realm of YA fantasy trilogies, and the unique setting might give it a little bump if you’re tired of medieval-European-based stories.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

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First Line: The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 19, 2017 10:56 am

    I felt quite the same way about this. I liked the Russian elements in it, and the magic system was interesting, but otherwise it was a pretty typical YA Fantasy plot arc.

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