Book Review: Shadow and Bone

10 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Shadow and Bone CoverTitle: Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Summary: [from GoodReads]

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.

My Review

Have you ever loved a book so much that you don’t know what to say about it? I have skipped over writing this review SO MANY TIMES because i just loved it too much.

One of the big things that attracted me to this book in the first place is the fact that the fantasy world was not based on a western culture, but instead on a Russian one. The flavor was just exotic enough to be noticeable without distancing the reader by being too foreign. I know next to nothing about Russian culture (aside from watching Anastasia a bajillion times as a kid) but I like to imagine the Darkling as a Rasputin kind of character, just before the upheaval and the murder of the royal family. If that was the intention, I can’t wait to see the reinterpretation of Anastasia’s story that would have to be coming!

With all that exotic flavor I was a little surprised at how much court intrigue there was. I really enjoyed it, and in retrospect I’m a bit silly – there’s court intrigue everywhere! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next. The suspense was so well written that even though I had my suspicions about where the story was going, I didn’t entirely trust them until they were officially confirmed or denied. That meant lots of back and forth on my opinion of the Darkling, which tore me apart, but in a good way.

I would definitely recommend this book to any high fantasy lover, and to those looking to try the genre. Either way, this is a fabulous read that you don’t want to miss!

Leave a Reply

10 Responses to “Book Review: Shadow and Bone”

  1. What definition are you using to define Russia as non-Western? Its geographical location isn’t really fully Western, but a lot of the culture (religion and the czars, for example) fall more into line with the Western culture, even though it certainly has its own unique flavor. I really loved the nod to czarist Russia. It’s not an area that generally gets a lot of literary love.

    I reallllllllly loved this book. I tore through it pretty quickly, then just wanted to start re-reading it. I can’t wait until we have MOAR. :)

    • Anne says:

      I’m defining “Western” as North American and Western European – I’ve always seen Russia as more of an Eastern European culture, which has it’s own quirks and unusual flavor. But you’re right, it’s more Western than some other cultures. I just think it’s nice that we’re getting some more unusual cultures – in that sense I’m more calling it “non-Western” because it isn’t used very often, which isn’t all that accurate.

  2. Great review, Anne!

    I liked this book enough, but it’s not high on my favourites list. I thought there was something missing from it. I’m not sure if I’ll read the sequel or not.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m glad you liked it. :)

    • Anne says:

      Aw, I’m sorry you didn’t like it as well. That seems to happen to me pretty often too – it seems like EVERYONE likes a book and to me it’s only so-so. But if you didn’t like it there are so many other books out there to try that it might be better to go with them than to try a sequel you’re not really sure about, you know?

  3. Nice to know that the Russian influence runs through this book, and it’s not just a hook/gimmick or a few sentences mentioned here and there that this book is inspired by Russian culture.

    I’m really getting into the high fantasy genre and OMG this one is high on my list. Have you seen all the rave reviews out there, including your own? It’s simply overwhelming!

    • Anne says:

      I actually try to stay away from reviews until I’ve read a book, because I don’t want to be influenced by someone else’s opinion before writing down my own lol. But I can certainly see why there would be so many rave reviews out there!

      Welcome to the high fantasy cult! As a long time member, I’m excited to see more people get into it. Now we just have to ease you into the really heavy-duty stuff, like the Wheel of Time series or something lol :)

  4. Alexa says:

    I have always liked fantasy but I always kept away from high fantasy because most of the adult high fantasy was too boring to me. I have had a copy of this book for half a year and I still need to read it!!!

    I’m so glad you loved all of the elements of this book and I can’t wait to read it.

    • Anne says:

      The nice thing about YA high fantasy is that the authors expect a smaller attention span, so they don’t spend too much time on the details of the world (well some authors. Paolini’s Eragon series still spends TONS of time on world-building). If you’re looking for adult authors that don’t spend as much time on world-building, I’d suggest Mercedes Lackey or Andre Norton – both write “high” fantasy that is less “epic” fantasy (i.e. “In the beginning there were rocks, but the rocks were magic[… 400 pages later] and our story actually BEGINS…” lol)

      Can’t wait to see what you think of this one – it’s one of those that I love it so much I want everyone else to read it too!

      • Alexa says:

        Thanks for the recommendations for adult high fantasy. I have seen Mercedes Lackeys books before and thought about trying them but I didn’t want them to have too much epic fantasy in them and now that I know they don’t I’m adding her to my wish list because I just can’t sti around and read about the moss growing on trees lol.

  5. […] was a short week this week, because I’m still recovering from vacation. I reviewed Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Storm Front by Jim Butcher, and that was […]

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