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Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.


Here is what I said in my original review of Shadow and Bone: Shadow and Bone is an interesting fantasy novel set in a world called Ravka similar to Russia in terms of language, climate, and landscape. Alina Starkov is the main character, a foot soldier in the wars with her friend Mal. They’re sent on a mission into the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness that cuts across the land, which is filled with monsters. But Alina reveals a strange power that she did know about: she conjures a mysterious beam of light in the Fold which drives away all the monsters. She is whisked away to become a Grisha, one of the magical elite led by the enigmatic Darkling. He believes that only she can destroy the Fold. But there are many secrets that Alina will discover-dangerous secrets.


I’ve got mixed feelings about this fantasy novel. I loved the world it’s set in; the Grisha are interesting and I liked that it was like Russia. Shadow and Bone took a surprising turn though, one that I didn’t expect at all. It was certainly an intriguing twist, but I must say, I was totally shocked. Really. I didn’t expect it at all.

And there’s the love triangle (of course.) I did not like it that much. First Alina loves Mal, then she falls (stupidly) in love with the Darkling, and then Mal again, and so on. But I enjoyed Bardugo’s writing style a lot, and managed to get past that. I’m even tempted to give it 5 stars, but I think it gets 4.5 stars.

I did enjoy the rest of the book, which was pretty suspenseful, and I look forward to reading the sequel, which I’m sure will have an equal number of surprising turns. You can read Veronica Roth’s endorsement of it here (her blurb is on the cover), and Becky’s review here.” 

I wanted to reread Shadow and Bone, because despite what I said in my review, I didn’t like it as much as I was expecting to. I think I was just trying to convince myself that I really liked it, because I had bought it. Anyway, I put Shadow and Bone on the YA-disappointment shelf in my mind. But then, I joined Goodreads, and I noticed that all of my Goodreads friends seemed to be raving about the book. I must have missed something; perhaps I was just not in the mood for YA when I read it. 

All that leading up to: I really enjoyed it this time. As I said, I love the compelling Russia-like world that Shadow and Bone is set in. It could be developed more, but Shadow and Bone is only the first book, and I’m sure it will be more explored in Siege and Storm, but as it is, the world is lush and beautifully described, even if it does draw very heavily off of Russian culture. 

Reading it again, I realized that there isn’t really a love triangle at all. There are two men, but they’re never really competing with one another; after all, Mal and the Darkling have few scenes together. I  like all three of the main characters: Alina, Mal, the Darkling. I really like the Darkling still, despite what is eventually revealed about him. He’s a fascinating character. I hope I’m not giving too much away. Alina herself is a great heroine; she’s by no means perfect in any respect, but she’s smart and fairly determined. She also has kind of come to terms with her appearance; she strongly objects towards the beginning when Genya wants to make her look better. Alina is aware that she is not particularly pretty, but she’s for the most part fine with it. 

I’m really not sure why I didn’t like Shadow and Bone as much before. I think it was mainly the huge twist in the book. I was not expecting at all, and I didn’t like it. The second time around, I was expecting it, and was able to appreciate it more. The first time, I was just shocked and outraged. I didn’t want the person it pertained to to turn out evil. 

Shadow and Bone is suspenseful, well written, and highly recommended. Realizing that there isn’t actually much of a love triangle made me fully ready to give this book an actual 4.5 stars. Now I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel, Siege & Storm. Hopefully there won’t be a love triangle in that.  

356 pages.

Rating: 4.5 stars.

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