{#CatchUpClub} Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Shadow and Bone (The Grischa, #1)
Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Square Fish
Date of Publication: June 5, 2012 (HB) | May 7, 2013 (PB)

Alina Starkov doesn't expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal--and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.

Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina's extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart--and her country--in two.

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan Asia for the review copy! Still, this in no way affected my views of the novel. I also want to thank Yasmine of the #CatchUpClub for pushing this wonderful book!

I would like to start this review by admitting that I am not a fantasy girl. Sure, I read fantasy at times but I'd pick contemporary than fantasy any day. And if I do read a fantasy novel, it's usually grounded in the present world as well or isn't that different because I am a visual person. So that's a big hindrance for me because I find it hard to imagine completely new worlds. Probably why I enjoy dystopia because it's about THE society, with just something changed or off. I can deal with that. But to create this new world in my head, with creatures or rules completely new, is hard. But that all changed with Shadow and Bone. Thank you, Shadow and Bone, for making me now open to fantasy novels.

Shadow and Bone had me hooked on the first page. ON. THE. FIRST. FREAKING. PAGE. I had a job interview to go to and I started it on the commute. During my interview, I was itching for it to be finished so I can get back to reading. After my interview, the first thing I did was continue reading the book. THAT ENGAGED. It was that compelling that it felt like second nature to read it.

The world building was fantastic. More than fantastic. The Russian setting with all the Asian borders, the dreadful atmosphere, the darkness of the Shadow Fold, the fear of The Darkling, everything was tangible and palpable. I can hear the noise of the markets, see how terrifying(ly hot) The Darkling is, feel the unrest of all of Ravka. She also constructed a government, a hierarchy even with the Grisha, the army with powers. The world she wrote was complete and completely believable, even for a person like me who isn't as fond of fantasy. Leigh Bardugo did such an amazing job at crafting a country in distress with a good-for-nothing king and a fearsome creature no man will defy. Then she puts a boy and a girl, best friends but the girl harboring feelings for the boy, in all of these. Then the girl is apparently the one thing the whole country has been waiting for. What takes place is common in books, a heroine called to save the land, but Bardugo has made it fresh that I didn't even compared until now.

What I love best about Shadow and Bone is The Darkling. Sure, he's hot and he and his interactions with Alina spark fireworks in readers. (THAT scene? HAWT.) But what I like best is that he's a dark and complex villain. The greatest villains are the villains you love. I kept thinking of Klaus of the TV show The Vampire Diaries when I read Shadow and Bone. Klaus is evil, as The Darkling is, but his humanity shines through as well. Granted, we still aren't sure if The Darkling has humanity left in him or if he wasn't acting when he seems vulnerable but I truly believe in him and Leigh's writing that we haven't even barely grazed the surface of his character. I don't even hate The Darkling. I love him. And a small part of me ships him with Alina though I love Mal and Alina. Mostly, I ship The Darkling with myself. I won't mind having Darkling babies. Just sayin'!

Let's go to Mal. At first, Mal didn't strike a chord with me. Yes, I love best-friends-turned-lovers but how can I love him when The Darkling is there? But near the end, my heart burst for Mal and I had nothing but love for him. His lines? OH, HIS LINES. They were perfect and some. <possible spoilers ahead> His confession to Alina and how much he loves Alina more than himself. More than himself. Mal is Alina's first love and I gobble up first-love stories but you know what I love as well? Second chances. Mal and Alina have both the first-love and the second-chances. Their second chance with each other, TAKE ME NOW. <end of possible spoilers> Also, I read the paperback edition and THAT bonus content? Mal, take my heart now as I serve it on a platter for you. I might give The Darkling my body, but my heart belongs with Mal. FOR NOW. For now. When The Darkling shows how much humanity he has, we'll talk again.

Lastly, Alina. Alina is a relatable character. I don't know about you but I think everyone had a crush on a best friend or a friend at some point. So on that alone, I'm so behind her. I'm rooting for her. Then when she discovers her power and gets taken away to train with the Grisha, I felt her loneliness. But amidst feeling bad for living in luxury, she's an orphan and who could fault her for enjoying her life now? For being happy. Sure, she can now eat as much as she wants but at the end of the day, she isn't home. That bit resonated with me because sometimes, you think you fit in because you're with the same people. But deep inside you, you know you don't. And at the end of the novel, I love how Alina chose one thing above the other and how it probably changed her. She's not the same person as she was when we first met her. And probably not in a good way but definitely in an interesting way. I definitely want to read and see how her decisions and their consequences will affect her.

Shadow and Bone is a holysmackingawesome piece of awesomeness everyone should read. Everyone. If you love dark, great and complex villains, look no further, as The Darkling is here to terrify you into loving him. Get lost in the awesomeness of Shadow and Bone.

About Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, raised in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she hides out in Hollywood and indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as makeup artist L.B. Benson

Her debut novel, Shadow & Bone (Holt Children's/Macmillan) is now a New York Times Best Seller. 

She would be delighted if you followed her on Twitter, elated if you visited her website, and downright giddy if you liked Shadow & Bone on Facebook.


  1. You really adored this, didn't you? :)) Great review! I can't wait to read this for myself! :D

    Kyle @ The Selkie Reads Stories

    1. Is it that obvious? HAHA You should definitely read it sooner rather than later, Kyle! Thanks for the comment love!


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