Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: May 7th 2013 (this edition)
Publisher: Square Fish
Length: 372 pages

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart.

I know what you’re thinking – how has it taken you so long to get to this series?! And I have no decent excuse. It got tangled up in my head with ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ by Laini Taylor, and by the time I realised they were two very separate books the ship had sailed and I decided to wait until the full trilogy was out to sit down to read to them.
Then I promptly forgot.
Until ‘Six of Crows’ started making exciting waves and I decided that enough was enough and I really ought to get caught up on the Grisha world properly before launching into ‘Six of Crows’, and well, here we are.

This book had me from the first page. It was just the type of world, mythology, and exciting plot peopled with fascinating characters that I needed to get lost in. I stormed through it virtually in one sitting and loved it thoroughly.

It was such a refreshing change to see a gorgeous take on Russia used as the backdrop in Ravka. It leant the book a wonderful freshness and set it apart from so many of the fantasy books I’ve read this year. The world building is superb and I loved being immersed in this world, familiarising myself with the history and culture which is all captured so vividly and really adds an additional layer to the story that helps lift it from the page.

The characters are all complex and fascinating and I loved Alina from the start. She’s a wonderfully relatable protagonist, filled with flaws and weaknesses as well as strength and determination. I loved watching her come to terms with her past, her present and her future and all the facets of herself that she’s kept hidden for years. The only character that I wasn’t fussed on was Mal, strangely enough. I cared about him, but I wasn’t sold on the romance in the way I was hoping and expecting to be, which was a shame.

This is a fantastic start to what I’m sure is going to be a fabulous series. It’s filled with excitement and drama and magic and I slipped into this world and Alina’s life and fell in love. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the trilogy has in store.

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