Review in 10ish words: I get it now. Immaculate writing and a new take on fantasy worldbuilding. 4/5
How to consume: Something to warm your chest. Something brutal. Heck, the Russian vibes from Shadow and Bone make me want to say Mishka vodka for a laugh- but get your hands on a half decent vodka you can sip. Or shot. Whatever your preference. Play some heavy instrumentals and cozy on in for a ride.
Ravka is torn by war- the Shadow fold stands as an abyss separating the country and causing unrest, with enemies closing in from every direction.
We meet Alina Starkov- An orphan who has been painfully average for her life- especially in comparison to the gifted Grisha (all around legends and masters of the small sciences).
Everything changes for Alina when her regiment is attacked and she is forced to unmask unknown power. Shadow and Bone is gripping, dark and beautiful to read.
“You and I are going to change the world.”
It is well known news in the Grishaverse that the much loved and adored Shadow and Bone is being made into a Netflix series. It is due to hit our screens in April 2021 and I am not going to lie, this definitely pushed me to move it up my TBR.
Shadow and Bone was the first Young Adult read I have enjoyed in quite a while. I love a dark, complex villain and I love a strong female lead- enough said.
What sets this book apart you might ask? Apart from some of the most extensive world building I have seen, Leigh has drawn on Russian/Mongolian influences for Ravka- A welcomed changed from the usual landscape of the genre. Her inclusion of more modern warfare was also a nice touch.
In terms of characters- I adored watching Alina develop. I had an affiliation with her and the idea of not dimming your own light to protect the feelings of someone else was enjoyable. There is a wealth of goodness to draw from this book- love, war, good and bad and where that line is drawn. I started the book for the the hype and stayed for the impressive storytelling.
“It hurts, but I can bear it. Because I am a doll, and a servant. Because I am a pretty thing and a soldier all the same.“
The Darkling is a much loved villain for good reason. Although I loved him, I wanted more- I wanted more of his character. I wanted to know more. I think most importantly I wanted to see him outside of Alina’s perspective- (check out the extra chapter at the end from Genya’s perspective- this is what I wanted more of!). Ultimately, this drove me to give it a 4/5 over a 5/5. In contrast- I found Mal (Alina’s childhood friend) annoying and difficult to trust. I spent the book doubting his sincerity at every turn and just thought he was generally unlikable.
I am super interested to see what book two and three brings- Hopefully more Darkling! I am super keen to see where Alina’s journey takes us. In further adoration of her world building ability I am also dying to check out the other series set within the Grishaverse!