Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publication date: June 5, 2012

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (Macmillan)

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.


See that last line in the synopsis? Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance. You might think, "So? They are producing hype. Glorious? Epic? Irresistible? Of course there's romance!" 

I laugh in your faces.

This book was more than I ever expected. When I realized that I had not read it before, I put it off. My sister Shelver even gave me a duplicate copy (hardcover!) if I read it and like it. Finally, I read it...and finished it very soon after I began.

Alina is an orphan from the Border Wars and added to that, she is described as ugly. The only bright spot is her fellow orphan, refugee, and best friend. Mal and Alina have been together since childhood and when they grow up, they still remain close. However, the past few years, Alina has felt them drift apart. She has been crushing on Mal, he has become very talented and handsome which is attracting the eyes of many beautiful girls...including a Grisha. When they cross the Shadow Fold, a place where not many people come out alive, they are under attack. Alina suddenly saves them all with a power she didn't even know existed inside of her...and still denies that she has it when she is told that she was the one who saved them all.

Basically, I tried to just do a rundown of the beginning. The funnest part is, of course, telling you all my opinions on things. When I read a book as good as this one, I get giddy at the prospect of squealing over it.

I can see how Alina falls in love with her best friend. From day one (specifically page two), I even fell in love with Mal.

A moment later the boy whispered, "I don't think you're ugly."
"Shhhh!" The girl hissed. But hidden by the deep shadows of the cupboard, she smiled.

I know these kind of relationships can quickly grow stale since it always seems as if the girl likes her best friend. However, Leigh Bardugo makes the dynamic between Mal and Alina so wonderful and great, I felt as if it was unique. Even though we are plainly told that there is nothing mutually known between them, I played with the words in my head, thinking that everything means SOMETHING...right?

Mal suddenly seemed to realize that he had his arms around me. He let go and hastily stepped back. I brushed the dust from my coat, hoping he wouldn't notice the flush on my cheeks.

The little descriptions or imagery that we are given, even in the beginning, of Mal made me inch closer to him. I knew we were supposed to like him...but also feel a bit warned since he seemed like a ladies' man. I also loved (but not in the same way) Alina from day one. She was tough and strong, but you still saw the wishful, scared girl inside of her. She also kept herself in check. Instead of playing the woe me girl who thinks she's entitled to the boy of her dreams I'm looking at you Taylor Swift, she told herself that they don't belong together. Although that's not what I was looking for (hello, they would be perfect for each other), I liked that she had no self-entitlement to him just because she knew him the best. Of course, as a reader, I wished she had more self-confidence too.

You were just mooning over him, I chided myself. Why shouldn't some gorgeous Grisha girl do the same?

Not that kind of mooning, you sicko.
After the Shadow Fold incident, we immediately meet the Darkling. When I read that name, I went "Ooooh" like kids do when someone else is in trouble. The Darkling. How menacing, dangerous, and mysterious that sounds. At the same time, I had already heard a few things about this Darkling and I already formed some conclusions about him (this time I'm looking at Gillian and some other bloggers). It's not a spoiler in any way considering you get the feel about him in about the first five chapters. 

Leigh Bardugo pinned him on Pinterest.
I think the Darkling, of course.
While I kept going back and forth between who I'm supposed to like, I knew who I did like. I do think for myself, don't get me wrong, but I like to try to figure out who the author wants us to like. She gives us no satisfaction in that regard. 

Which is another thing. Leigh Bardugo is a GREAT writer. My gosh, that woman had me whimpering out loud in my seat. She made me so confused (in a good way!) as to who I should trust and who I should like or shouldn't. For me, she wove such great twists inside the story that I really didn't care if I had school the next morning and needed my eight to nine hours of sleep, I was going to finish! I mean, how could I stop and sleep anyways when she gave me new information all the time? It would be impossible. Because the feels? They were powerful. I was pulled around by all the shock and there were moments when I wanted to scream, "WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING, MS. BARDUGO?" At one point, I told my sister that if it ended in the way the author was at the present time setting it up to be, I would be a very tearful and angry and emotionally wrecked reader.

This pretty much sums up my experience with all the feels.
The secondary characters weren't that noticeable for me except for maybe one or two, but I did adore Genya. We were first quickly introduced to her in Alina's confusion, but I instantly knew she was best friend material. She was tough and actually reminded me of Macey from my favorite series, the Gallagher Girls

This book had officially made my "WHY didn't I read this sooner?!" list. But really, the good thing about waiting so long to read this book is that I don't have to wait too much longer for the sequel. Hint, hint to the publisher.

As I told my good friend, Emily, there is a reason FANTASy is so similar to FANTAStic.

Verdict: A FANTAStic novel that made me emotional with feels and gave me all sorts of pleasure after reading previous novels that felt like busts.

How do you feel about fantasy novels? Are you excited for this sequel?


  1. Yes, this book went also on my "WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?" list when I read it about 2 weeks ago. The darkling, Mal, Alin, The fold. I loved everything about this book :) Perfection does exist! Great review :D


  2. AHHHHHHHH! You finally read it! Whoop! I'm not sure about Mal, still. This is going to sound so bad because we know the truth about the Darkling, but I still liked him. Gah, I've tried everything in my power to get a copy of S&S but I guess I will have to wait :) So glad you liked this!

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland
    My <a

    1. Oh really?! Well, I have to admit...I kept going back and forth. He seemed a lot like Aspen or something shady. I didn't like him then I did again and it was a confusing mess. Agreed. I totally get you. I can't help but think there is good inside of him!

  3. YES! I LOVE THIS BOOK! Gah and I read the sequel and it is AWESOME!

  4. I still haven't read this. *hides* I'm sure I'll soon join the 'why didn't I read this sooner' club. lol I loved your review. I really need to read this book this summer. :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    1. Sara, pull yourself together and read it! I just rewatched the Incredibles again, I had to add that quote. Thanks :)

  5. I had this one on my shelf FOREVER it seems. I kept putting it off because I was so afraid that it wouldn't live up to the hype. Oh man, did it ever! One of the very best books I've ever read. I'm so in love with the Darkling, I can hardly stand it! I'd even pick him over Mal. :O

    Great review! So glad you loved this one!

  6. This is another one I have that I just haven't picked up yet. I usually don't like fantasy, but I think I'll definitely have to read it soon after your review :) Mal and Alina sound like great characters and their relationship sounds perfect. I'm also very excited to see what the writing will be like. Amazing review!!

    1. Thank you! Oh, it really is just amazing. I hope you enjoy!

  7. YES YOU HAVE FINALLY READ IT! I'm so glad you loved it and finally know why I'm so OBSESSED with both Mal and my beloved Darkling. Plus Alina is awesome and the writing is awesome and the awesome things that happen are awesome.

    1. Everything is just awesome. I can't get another word for it. I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW

  8. I love when I see someone reading this book when they've been putting if off forever. :) So glad you enjoyed it. I'm currently devouring Siege and Storm, and let me tell you, it's EVEN BETTER! No lie! Great review...I can't wait to see what you think of the sequel!

  9. I couldn't believe I waited to read this one either. It's so good. And I love the gifs! I agree also that it's hard to know who we're supposed to like/trust. I liked Mal then hated him then liked him again and I liked the darkling then hated him then liked him then hated get the picture lol. I hear Alina kicks butt in book two so I'm excited to see her grow more and gain more confidence. Great review! I'm following you on bloglovin' now =)

    1. Thank you :) Oh I was definitely the same way! Yay! Well, thank you!

  10. I see our catchphrase has transcended email and found a place on your blog. :)

    I haven't read this book, but your review makes me want to. I adore non-traditional bad guy situations in which you can't figure out who you like or are supposed to like. That's one of the reasons Shatter Me is so wonderful; Warner is the antagonist and I felt like I shouldn't like him, but I DID because it is so clear that he is the protagonist in his version of the world. That's not exactly the same thing as what you described, but still.

    And cheers for non-entitled girls! In real life, you have to work for relationships to happen, and it is great when books reflect that.

    1. Oh, yes, I couldn't resist adding it!

      No, I definitely see what you're saying. I like it when they play with my mind in that way!

      YES YES YES. I usually want to slap the girl because I'm thinking that this is not reality!

  11. I LOVE this review, Sunny!! You've totally sold me on this book. I was planning on reading it because I have the 2nd but even with the raving reviews, I haven't been super excited. Now I am!! I think I'll fall for Mal like you. I always try to figure out who the author is going to put the heroine with at the end, who we're supposed to like, because I hate putting my hope in the one that doesn't get picked! I get so disappointed! Brilliant review! :)