Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
YA fantasy*Hardcover/eBook, 356 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published May 17th 2012)
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 unravelling 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?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
Woot! Squee! Swoon! Insert a row of emoji here. I am an instant fangurl. Now this is how fantasy is done. Unique, well-written, exciting, dark and mysterious, I loved LOVED loved Shadow and Bone! From the opening, I knew Alina and Mal shared a special friendship and was pleasantly surprised with the unfolding events as they passed through the Shadow Fold. Sometimes my eyes can't read fast enough and there were many occasions when I wanted to devour this book. The Darkling? Deliciously dark, a walking enigma, and a great antagonist. He doesn't have to speak much, his brooding presence is enough.
What a fascinating world Bardugo creates from the magical, powerful Grisha to the lavish kingdom of Ravka, the settings and characters not only intrigue but kept me enthused. Childhood friends now thrust apart when Alina's unknown power bursts through in a moment of terror. A regular girl is now treated like royalty, revered by some and despised by others. She loves Mal and is unsure of her feelings for the attractive Darkling. Power is always a seducer and Alina is no different. She enjoys her new found ability as sun summoner (and why shouldn't she after years of being a no one?) and yet, is a little scared by all of it--the attention, the draw, the mystery and danger.
With war on the horizon and a power to learn how to control, Alina certainly has work to do. A nobody is suddenly thrust into a new world filled with jealousy, treachery, and other things unknown. Who can she trust? Is Mal still on her side? The plot is well done and I loved the surprises and reveals. I was totally connected to Alina and never bored. She is a true character: strong yet weak at times, stubborn, vulnerable, smart and a kick ass heroine when needed, but she isn't one thing--perfect. And that's why I like her so much. Mal is a quieter character, with his good looks and player attitude, there's more underneath his exterior: stout supporter, an unyielding ally, still human and jealous when provoked. He is what Alina needs, even when she isn't sure she deserves him or vice versa.
There are a handful of YA fantasies which have totally enchanted me from Kristin Cashore's Graceling series to Ari Marmell's Widdershins Adventures to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. I can happily place The Grisha series on this list.
Mystery, danger, romance, history, Shadow and Bone is a complete fantasy. This is a book not to be heavily described in a book review, it has to be experienced. I absolutely loved every part of this story and that doesn't happen to me frequently. That's a feat and Leigh Bardugo is nothing short of awesome.
I have to applaud the art department for creating a cover worthy of such a fantastic story. Instead of jumping into the crowd with something similar (like Alina in a gown or staring into Mal's eyes), we are given art representative of life in Ravka. Excellent.
I received a promotional copy from the publisher which I should have read immediately and not placed on my TBR pile.