ARC provided by the wonderful Angel from Mermaid Visions.
Orphan Alina Starkov has grown up in a country torn apart by war. Literally. Over a hundred years ago the Shadow Fold was created by a dark Grisha, slashing the country in half. It is a place of danger and darkness where monsters feast on any who dare to pass. Now a cartographer’s apprentice, Alina is to cross the Shadow Fold with a company of soldiers, including her childhood friend and fellow orphan. In the darkness Alina will discover a truth she’s kept hidden from herself, which will lead to a meeting with the Darkling: the mysterious and magnetic great-grandson of the man who created the Shadow Fold in the first place.
This book wasn’t even on my radar until Angel lent it to me and I am so grateful that she did because this book is AMAZING. Well-drawn settings, I-feel-like-I-know-them-for-real characters, plot twists, stomach fluttering scenes, this book has ALL THE THINGS.
World building is huge in fantasy, and Berdugo pulls it off without seeming to break a sweat. Whether it’s the world of the soldiers or of the Grisha or of an ordinary orphan, Ravka feels like a real place. Adding to this is the use of a different language (I’m not sure if it’s words created by Bardugo or, like, Russian or something). Generally, I enjoy this kind of thing and it’s pretty essential to world building, but in Shadow and Bone the unusual words were frequent and kind of off-putting. If I had one complaint, it would be that because I could never remember what the different words meant.
It’s hard to say whether this is a character or a plot driven book because they are both done so well. At the beginning I had my doubts because it seemed some of the characters would fall into stereotypes, but this quickly passed as my expectations were torn apart before my unbelieving eyes. Linked with this, a twist I almost saw coming for a moment but didn’t pay much attention to because I figured there was no way it could be true (nor did I want it to be true) destroyed me. It was like Bardugo ripped my heart out of chest, set it on fire, shoved it back in, and then punched me in the face. It was awesome.
Of course I can’t wait for the sequel, but it’s a good kind of anticipation because there was a feeling of a semi-conclusion. Not exactly a cliff-hanger (a trend that I’m really starting to hate), but a feeling that the second book will be just as great and I want the story to continue.
Books with similar aspects
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce
recommended to YA fantasy fans and those who like a good twist
not recommended to those who prefer their hearts remain intact
Don’t just take my word for it!
“A WIN for the fantasy genre. Both unique and compelling, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo should find a happy home on many bookshelves.”- Jen @ Almost Grown-Up
“Shadow and Bone is one of those books that you need to read to restore your faith in YA.” – Katya