Shadow and Bone Spoiler-Free Review
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.
I was not expecting Shadow and Bone to be quite as dark as it ended up being, but I loved it! The world that Bardugo creates is so complex, yet her writing makes it super easy to understand. Along with that, I loved the magic system. I mean, it wasn’t technically magic, more so people with powers, but it was so fun to read about. Some of my favourite scenes were the ones where the Grisha were using their powers. But, I have to be honest, I didn’t really see a ton of Russian mythology or folklore in here. I know that it’s probably really hard to work a lot that into a book, but I wouldn’t have noticed if you took the little bit that was there out. But, overall, it was super-fast paced and the writing and world-building were on point, so I shouldn’t be complaining.
I really enjoyed the characters that Bardugo created. We watch our main character, Alina, grow both physically and emotionally, and become a completely different character by the end of the book. We see her go through a tremendous amount of character development through her training and the people she meets. Mal is Alina’s childhood friend, as well as her love interest in this book. I liked Mal, he felt like a real person, not just someone made for Alina to fall in love with. I also really liked their relationship. It didn’t feel rushed at all because of their background together. I know this relationship wouldn’t have worked if Alina had just met Mal in this book. But, because they’ve known each other since childhood, I thought it worked really well. Now, let’s talk about the Darkling. I’m pretty sure everyone has at least heard someone mention the Darkling before. I was really excited to figure out just exactly who he was, and I have to admit, I’m a bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s an intriguing character, I just was expecting more. The Darkling was so hyped up to be evil and mysterious and cunning, I just think he fell a bit flat somewhere. I’m my feelings will change as I read the next books, but for now, I’m kind of disappointed? I don’t know, I just can’t connect with him, and I definitely don’t see how people can love him, as in want to marry him.
Other than the ones I’ve already mentioned, I really thought the problem to this story was wrapped up WAY too neatly. I mean, the way it all went down, nothing bad happened (Okay, SOMETHING bad happened, but nothing that could majorly affect Alina). What I’m trying to say is, I wanted the problem to be dragged out, at least, to the beginning of the next book. It ended up working out so conveniently, that I just couldn’t buy into it. I couldn’t believe that what happened actually happened. And it stinks because that plot point could’ve gone in much more interesting directions, but Bardugo cut it off before we could even see the worst of it.
Overall, Shadow and Bone is a well-written fantasy novel, with a unique world and great characters. Although some things didn’t click with me, I did fly through the book and will definitely be picking up Siege and Storm. I would highly recommend this book for fans of Falling Kingdoms and Throne of Glass because kick-ass females are the best!