Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: June 5th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
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.
WHY DIDN’T I READ THIS BOOK EARLIER???
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.
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.