Shadow and Bone (Book 1 of The Shadow and Bone Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold—a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.

Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite—and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.

As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.

Welcome to Ravka . . . a world of science and superstition where nothing is what it seems.

My Review

I first heard of Shadow and Bone because it popped up on Netflix and had a 98% rating for me. So, of course I watched it and dragged my husband along for the ride. We watched the whole thing in two nights. We loved it. I wanted more, so I immediately hopped on Amazon and bought the trilogy.

I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed reading Shadow and Bone. We follow Alina, an orphan girl who is a mapmaker for the Ravkan army. Or at least that’s all she thinks she is. She has a crush on Mal, her childhood friend who is a tracker in the same army. They dance around it but it’s there. Alina is small, skinny, and a little sassy. I like her.
Her skiff is attacked when they go into the Shadow Fold, and she and Mal are almost killed. That’s when the power that’s been inside her all along bursts out and everyone realizes who she really is – a Sun Summoner. She is immediately whisked away for training, not without some adventure on the way.

She is young and naïve and out of her element once she gets to Os Alta. Everyone there is steeped in their own self-importance and it’s hard for her to fit in or understand what’s going on much of the time. She works hard and struggles with the power she’s been gifted, mostly because of how she views herself. Once she begins using her power, everything about her becomes stronger. Holding it in and never using their powers has a deeply negative effect on the Grisha and Alina is no exception.

The Darkling becomes obsessed with tracking down a magical stag to use to enhance her power. When she realizes what’s going on under the surface, she’s horrified and has to make a run for it. Luckily, Mal is there to help spirit her away and they run long and hard trying to escape the Darkling’s reach.

Alina’s character arc is slow to get started. We spend most of the first book waiting for her to own her power and accept it. When she allows herself to feel it, she’s so strong, but she’s constantly fighting her own insecurities and it makes it harder for her to wield. Then she can’t use it while they are on the run and suffers for it.
The world-building is really good and you get some answers to your questions about what’s going on and how it came to be. I’m happy to visit the Grishaverse more and see what other secrets it will give up.

Overall, it’s a good story and I enjoyed it. If you’re into young adult fantasy and magical realism, I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m reading the second book now and picked up the Six of Crows duology as well.

If you would like to read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo you can find this book on Amazon as an Amazon Associate I earn on qualifying purchases.

If you like this book you may also enjoy books with these tags and categories Young Adult, Fantasy, and Magical Realism.


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