Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis: Shadow and Bone takes place in Ravka, a country at war with their neighbors. Alina, an orphan whose parents were killed because of the war, is drafted into the army and sent, along with her childhood friend and fellow orphan, Mal, to the most dangerous part of their country: The Fold. Here, where darkness and monsters are all one can see, Alina discovers that she has a powerful ability that could save or destroy her people. Whisked away, Alina finds herself in a new world full of royalty and other magic users (Grishas), the strongest of which being the Darkling, who distracts Alina from his dark secrets with kind words and kisses. When his secrets come out, Alina must decide who to trust, who to love, and who truly controls the power in her.

Review: This novel is the first of three in The Grisha Triology, all of which are released. I have heard much about this series over the past few years, and I was expecting a lot out of this first book. I have to say, after hearing so many good things about it, this book may have been a bit overhyped for me.

For a start, the plot was full of slow moments. There were a number of chapters that seemed to drag on for me. Either nothing much was happening, or I just simply didn’t care about what was going on. For example, while Alina was being trained and taught, there were many moments in which I wanted to know more about what she was learning. She spent so much time on Grisha theory and learning how to use her power, but the reader learned almost none of it. This resulted in a very slow read for me. Perhaps in later books there will be better, but I really would have liked to have felt a little more hooked on the plot and details in this first book.

I also had problems with Alina at times. Though I did like her character overall, there were moments, like her very fast paced relationship with the Darkling, that I simply didn’t understand. She was very naive and spacey at times. Don’t get me wrong, I love good character flaws, but this is probably one of the character flaws that annoys me the most in literature. Once she realizes what is actually happening though, I do have to say that the character progression that occurs was worth the annoying aspects of her character. She truly does grow into her own and begins to turn away from her naivety.

Though these things bothered me, I do have to say that I enjoyed this novel. The premise was interesting, and I liked the relationships that occurred between the characters. They were compelling and complex with a good mix of both emotion and logic blended throughout. I especially liked the relationship between Mal and Alina.

The world and its war, full of both magic and regular weaponry, was interesting to read about. I wish there would have been more background information about how things were started. Again, I think, or hope, that these details and plot holes will be resolved in the next two novels.

I also thoroughly enjoyed how morally obscure the Darkling was. I mean, don’t get me wrong, his dark secret is horrible and awful, but I can’t help but believe that there is a bit more to his character that hasn’t quite been gotten at yet. I’m excited to see where his character ends up at the end of the series.

Though the middle section of this novel was slow-going at times, the ending was fast-paced and exciting. It was also a wonderful set-up for the next novel. It made me want to get the next two and binge-read them, which I unfortunately can’t do because of my book-buying ban/agreement/compromise/whatever you want to call it. Hopefully in the coming months I can manage to get the next books.

I would recommend this novel for those who like good character development, those who are looking for new takes on magic, and for those who are wanting to binge-read a series.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Cups of Tea

Your Pemberley Reader,

     Acacia

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