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.
The world building in Shadow and Bone was excellent. I loved the Russian-ness of the fantasy world, and of course I loved the map at the front. The setting and character descriptions were all great, and I felt the author had a voice that was very uniquely her own. I did have a few issues with “author interruption”. There were times I felt pulled out of the story world when a character did or said something that seemed like it didn’t belong. Overall though, I was hooked from the beginning and will continue with the series in Siege and Storm. I liked that the book began with a prologue-like chapter told narration style. It started very much in the same vein as Harry Potter, then the book continued in first person (my fave point of view to read). I felt like this made the beginning stand out from others in this genre.
There was some romance (you know I love my romance), but Shadow and Bone was more of a “coming-of-age” story about a girl (Alina Starkov) who very much wanted to fit in. I felt like Alina was wishy-washy at times, and acted in ways to please others without really considering what she truly wanted. This is something I think everyone relates to, but I found it made it difficult to connect with her character. In the beginning, she had strong feelings for her close guy friend, but then she became attracted to the Darkling. It seemed Alina was very easily swayed, which in turn made her look weak. It will be interesting to see where the author takes Alina’s character arc in the follow-up books. I’d like to see her grow; to know what she wants and stand for it, despite what others think. I liked learning about the different Grisha powers, but felt like there wasn’t enough time between Alina learning about her power and mastering it. It seemed like a jump and very all-of-a-sudden.
The ending left me with hope, and made me wonder what was next for Alina and her friend Mal. I was surprised at how easily Alina made the choice she did in the end, but was proud of her for finally making a decision on her own without worrying about others. I’d like to know more about the Darkling in the next book, and wonder whether he will remain a villain or become his own version of a hero. The twist relating to him in Shadow and Bone was part of the reason I kept reading, because I wanted to get to know him better and see the motivations behind his actions.
Ages: 16 and older
For fans of:
Content: This book contains mild language at a couple points, and a few kissing scenes.
I give Shadow and Bone 4 out of 5 hearts for its unique fantasy world and surprising plot twist.
Have you read Shadow and Bone? What did you think? Leave a comment below or tweet to me @SaraEllaWrites. I love hearing from you! Until then, happy reading!