Review: SHADOW AND BONE (The Grisha #1)

Review: SHADOW AND BONE (The Grisha #1)
Shadow and Bone
The Grisha #1

Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: June 5th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 356
Format: select
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
Also by this author: Siege and Storm, Six of Crows

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.



Sorry for shouting, but I really don’t have an answer to that question, and it bothers me. I love high fantasy, but I haven’t been reading a lot of it lately because I’ve been on more of a YA contemporary fantasy/scifi/paranormal kick. Which is no excuse, because I’ve heard people gushing about this book for ages, and I pretty much knew I’d love it when I read it. All I can say is, I’m finally on board, guys. I read it. And I loved it.

Leigh Bardugo is probably my newest favorite author. In Shadow and Bone, she was able to craft a world that I found to be rich and totally engaging. Ravka is based on Russia. And while I don’t know a lot about the country or Russian society in general, I thought Leigh did an amazing job crafting a detailed fantasy-/alternate-history sort of world, without getting bogged down in any overly detailed descriptions or info-dumping about said world. There’s just enough detail to get a vibrant and vivid picture. Leigh’s writing is accessible and her descriptions are beautiful – just enough to let my imagination run wild with this world, and I loved it.

I also found the characters really compelling. Alina is sort of your typical ordinary-girl-finds-extraordinary-abilities character, but she’s written in a way that I really felt connected to her and her struggles. Her story also isn’t exactly your typical unknown-finds-powers-and-saves-the-world thing, either. There are tons of twists to who she is and what her mentors want her to become, which I loved. Her powers don’t make her life or her decisions any easier, that’s for sure.

Mal… I love Mal. I have a serious soft-spot for love stories where the two have been friends for life, and one still hasn’t wised up to the fact that the other love-loves them. In this case, Alina has been in love with Mal since they grew up together as orphans. They’re best friends, and Alina wishes they could be more. Mal doesn’t see this at first, but… well, no spoilers. But honestly, their friendship is amazing, as is pretty much everything about them. Neither are perfect people, but I think they are so good together, and so good for each other… gah. I’m gushing. I’ll stop. But I love them.

Now, I couldn’t pick this book up without having some expectations about the Darkling. Everyone seems to looooove him, lol. I can’t say I’m quite as taken with him as many other fans of the series, but I totally understand the appeal. Usually I’d be all over that, but I can’t bring myself to like the Darkling and Alina together. However, I really do find the Darkling to be a complex and completely intriguing character, and even though I’m not head over heels, he’s definitely one of my favorites.


In conclusion…

I adored this first installment of the Grisha series. Leigh Bardugo has easily earned another fan thanks to her beautifully realized world, vibrant characters, and engrossing plot. And things only get better in Book 2! Review for that one coming on Friday, so keep an eye out.

20 thoughts on “Review: SHADOW AND BONE (The Grisha #1)

  1. Ha! I’m one of those people who haven’t read this book yet, and I’m not quite sure why. But never fear, I own a copy and it’s high up on my TBR list (probably after Cinder and Scarlet) so I will be getting to it within the next two week! I’ve only ever really seen positive things about it, so I’m definitely looking forward to it. So glad you enjoyed it! :D

  2. Yey, I’m so excited you finally got to start this series! I feel your pain, I only just got to it a couple of months ago, haha. I agree with you about the Darkling, especially in the first book I liked him as an intriguing character, but I was never sure about him, mwahahaha

  3. Yay! I’m so happy you loved Shadow and Bone, Nikki! It’s definitely one of my favorite books! And I’m reading Siege and Storm right now, and I think it might be even better than Shadow and Bone which I thought would be near to impossible. I also loved the world building and Mal and just everything! I do have a thing for the Darkling, but I have to agree I cannot see Alina and him together. I think they have some similarities that draw them closer together, but I don’t think they would be a good couple. Great review! :D

  4. If you loved Shadow and Bone, you’ll probably love Siege and Storm even more because it’s even better! And I agree about the world-building and the lack of info-dumps and too long descriptions of things that don’t concern the story. Leigh Bardugo is a real master.

    And don’t worry, you’re not the only one who doesn’t see the Darkling with Alina! Many others don’t. But his characters really is appealing (in other words, I love to hate the guy, haha). He’s even meaner in the second book c: But Mal is a sweetheart <3 His type is my type, haha.

    • Yep, I adooored Siege and Storm! I’m not sure if I liked it better than Shadow and Bone, but definitely no less. They’re both AMAZING. My review for Siege and Storm will be posted on Friday. :D

      And you’re definitely right – the Darkling is way worse in the second book, but I also think he gets even more interesting. Love his character. And I just completely LOOOOVE Mal. He and Alina are definitely a new favorite OTP, lol.

  5. YAAY you finally read it! I get so happy when more and more people jump on the Shadow and Bone/Leigh Bardugo bandwagon. Wasn’t this book so seriously awesome? I agree with you on pretty much everything: the world-building was fabulous (no info-dumps!), the fantasy elements, Alina as a character, and Mal! I AM one of those people out there who did swoon a bit for the Darkling, but we’ll see if my feelings change later. I STILL NEED TO READ Siege and Storm! :/ Anyways, lovely review, I’m so happy to hear that you loved S&B!

    • I did!! So so so good. I hope you can get to Siege and Storm soon, because it was incredible! I love the character of the Darkling, and for me he just got more interesting in the second book. Really great development.

  6. *mutters* I have not read this book yet, and yes I am ashamed. *gains confidence because I am not the only one who has not read it* I will read it though. I love me some high as fly fantasy. But I have been disappointed by many that are just too mushy for my style. Oh, and the praise I have been hearing for the sequel is ridiculous. I really need to get to this one. Time, please give me a break. So glad you enjoyed it so! It pretty much sounds perfect.

    • Oh, I can tell you right off – Shadow and Bone is NOT too mushy. If by mushy you mean overfilled with romance and cuteness. ;) There is some, but it definitely didn’t overshadow any of the plot or become annoying. I hope you can get to it soon, I think you’d really like it!!

  7. Well clearly I have been living under a rock somewhere because this is the first I’ve heard of The Grisha. I also enjoy high fantasy, but I’ve been disappointed with some of my more recent forays into the genre. But this looks like it could be a winner! Great review Nikki.

  8. I’ve heard A LOT about this series and still haven’t read it, myself. I’m not a huge high fantasy fan but all the reviews I’ve read about are raving. Based off your beaming review, I’m guessing I need to go pick myself up a copy and give this series a chance. Plus, I just love that cover!

    • I think that this series should appeal to a really broad audience, not just high fantasy fans! It’s super accessible, whereas I think a lot of the stricter “high fantasy” isn’t. I hope you try it out soon, I think you’d really like it!

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