Series: The Grisha #1
Also in this series: Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising
Published by Macmillan on May 7th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic
Also by this author: Six of Crows, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising
Paperback provided by My Wallet (purchased)
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.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.
Wow, wow WOW! I am just gonna flail and simultaneously flog myself for not picking this up the second it arrived in my mailbox. This book is what fantasy is all about. It had romance, it had a fantastical world with powerful characters. I laughed out loud and swooned, then I cried a little bit. I am so late to the party for this one. If you are like me, and waiting for some reason to pick this up. This is my highest recommendation for a YA Fantasy book, like ever. If you haven’t read this, please get this book and read it RIGHT NOW!
This FANTASTICALLY EPIC FANTASY starts off with Alina and Mal as orphan children in a group home. They are the inseparable right from the start. Years later we see them in the first army. Alina is a mapmaker, and Mal is a tracker/hunter in the same regiment. They are still inseparable, but Mal has outside interests and Alina only has eyes for him. Oh course, he doesn’t see this.
Their next assignment is to cross a dangerous area called “the fold”. This is really dangerous and so the army has Grisha to accompany them. The Grisha are a magical breed who each wield a certain skill. (All children in this kingdom are tested for Grisha skills. Alina and Mal didn’t have any.) The fold is a dark space, created hundreds of years ago by a dark Grisha. The land is full of killer Volcra.
When their ship is attacked by Volcra, and Mal is injured, Alina’s power manifests in a burst of light to get the dark killers away. When the Grisha see what Alina can do she is swept away from Mal and her regiment to join the Grisha and train to save the world from the darkness.
Ok, now that we have that little summary out of the way, let me tell you everything that I LOVED about this story.
The world building: I don’t even want to imagine all the details that went into this for the author. It is just magical. There is a Russian feel to this world. It is elaborate and rough. The world is extravagant and full of details of tongue, food, dress and custom (← click for more info), that make it very unique. The army life for Mal and Alina is about what you would expect, but then we trickle in the politics and the presence of Grisha and it becomes something really unique. Alina is whisked away to the Little Palace to live with the Grisha, and there nothing little about this place. The details there leave no doubt that the Grisha are pampered. The food, the clothes, the palace, and even the training areas are all very well described. Once Alina is traveling, we see the small towns and are given snippets into Alina and Mal’s upbringing. Which beings me to…
The characters: I couldn’t ask for anything more from a story. Really! Alina goes through such a transformation. Actually, a lot of the characters go through change. It is hard to tell if it was them or if it was Alina’s view of them, but that just how damned good this story is. I LOVED The Darkling! Alina made me tear up and/or cry at so many points. Mal is a swoon worthy hero for Alina, even if it is only in her head. Alina makes friends/acquaintance with so many Grisha and soldiers in this story and we get a good look at them all.
The romance: Okay, well, admittedly this book does have a bit of a love triangle. Don’t fret. It is also wonderfully done. Alina and Mal/Alina and The Darkling. I was worn, but then I made my choice and I am sticking with it. (and I know some people didn’t like Mal and Alina, and if that is you, well you are just WRONG! They are perfect together) I loved Alina’s confusion at first. I loved her pinning for Mal and then swooning over the Darkling. Let’s face it, one has much more to offer. The heart wants what it wants though.
This whole book takes place in Alina’s first person. I loved that the reader only knows what she knows. Alina starts off a small sickly mess and transforms into the heroine this world needs. This story is really just the beginning for Alina. I wanna gush more, but I just cannot wait to get to the next book.
My Rating (in case you didn’t guess)