Shadow and Bone is the first book in the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. It’s the story of how a young woman named Alina Sarkov learned about herself and the world she lives in. Alina and her best friend, Mal, are both orphans who spent the majority of their time in a kind Duke’s orphanage until they were drafted into the First Army. One day their regiment is attacked on a large band of impenetrable darkness called the Fold. The Fold, created long ago, is filled with dangerous and aggressive monsters that love to eat human flesh. Alina and Mal, now fighting for their lives, are surrounded by the monsters and any hope they have of making it out alive-is shattered. Mal gets horribly injured when all of a sudden, Alina’s dormant power shines. Her power links her to being a Grisha, a magical elite group of nobility, and ultimately saves them all on that grime day. Because of that power, she is torn away from her best friend, the regiment, the only life she’s ever known to learn and be trained as a Grisha, as nobility and as the only person with her specific power. While Alina desperately tries to learn Grisha theory, fighting, magical training and her own wild power, the entire kingdom becomes in danger with secrets. Secrets of the Grisha and secrets that Alina, herself, has been hiding.
Overall, I really liked this book. I like how it’s a darker theme of power hungry individuals, of life and death, of how those who are in power can easily blind others in false pretenses. The book does a great job of capturing your attention and keeping you reading until the last page is turned. I finished the book in a day because it was so good. It has its problems, which I’ll go into next, but overall it was a really great read.
Alina, the main character, was not my favorite character. She is naïve and weak in the beginning and though she does go through some character development and get better she still is weak in my eyes. I like my main characters to be stronger. However, she handled her conflict very believably even if she did turn into the damsel in distress more times than not. Yet, that isn’t my biggest issue with her. My biggest issue is that she is so obsessed with beauty! She is so unconfident in her own self that she could not except that she was Grisha- because she saw herself as plain compared to them! She SAW her power, she FELT the powers existence, yet that means nothing because she looked in a mirror and didn’t see beauty? That’s hard to believe when you can physically see the power surging out of your own body! And I understand that in today’s society people, more specifically girls, have trouble viewing themselves as beautiful. I’m not saying anything against showing the world that someone who views themselves as plain-is actually beautiful, because it’s true. I just wish the author portrayed it differently; perhaps by focusing on integrity, honesty, intelligence and wits, fighting spirit, character, personality, and charm; all are aspects that make us beautiful. But then again, that is just my own opinion.
One character that I loved a ton was the Darkling. He’s the second or third main character (depending on how you look at it) and I just loved him in this book. I loved his raw, and carefully thought out character. I love dark characters, and characters whose powers/magic is related to the dark or slightly Underworld nature. They’re often expressed in only one way in literature but I’ve found that they are characters where you can go any path with and the story could be completely different. And that definitely happened in Shadow and Bone. He was dark, he was expressive and not expressive at the same time, he was exactly how you envision a dark magic character that is the only one of his kind. Being mysterious and powerful he played his part well as second to the King and his character development was really, really, really good! I’d go into more about him, since he was my favorite character, but I don’t want to accidently give away anything. There is a fine line of what I can and cannot say… 🙂
However, this book was still pretty good and I hear that the second and third books are even better so maybe I’ll have to give it a try? Overall, I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars only because I like my female main characters to be less a “damsel in distress” and more of a fighter or a Hermione. I recommend Shadow and Bone to anyone who enjoys darker themed fantasy novels and readers in the younger generation may not quite understand all the underlying themes in the novel but I can’t see how that would be too much of an issue to the storyline.
Have you read this book or the rest of the series? What were you’re takes on it? I’d love to hear your feedback! I’m curious if anyone else fell in love with the Darkling’s character! 🙂