Book Review: Shadow and Bone (Book 1 of The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo

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(Book Cover Image Belongs to Leigh Bardugo and her team at Square Fish!)

Publisher’s Summary:

“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.”

Okay, so I think my only problem with this book is just that I read Six of Crows first and I was expecting something completely different (i.e. very similar to SoC). Shadow and Bone takes place in the same world as SoC but the books could not be more different, at least in my opinion. SaB follows a single protagonist, Alina Starkov, as she is revealed to have Grisha powers. She is whisked away to begin training as a Grisha, leaving behind a comfortable life in the army as a mapmaker and her best friend, Mal. During her training she meets the Darkling, a mysterious and temptingly handsome Grisha palace dignitary with a “shady” past.

So, love triangle-y. Not my favorite YA trope, though it isn’t a super invested love triangle or at least didn’t feel that way to me. Her feelings for Mal very much seemed to outweigh her feelings for the Darkling. She also seemed very helpless for the first half of the book and then suddenly becomes super powerful in a rushed moment of self-actualization I felt was too easy. The book did pick up after this point though and become more interesting, after Mal reenters the scene and she has assumed the bulk of her abilities. I still love the world Bardugo has created, though she utilizes it so much better in SoC. The ending of SaB led me to believe we would be exploring this universe more in this trilogy as well. It is the first in the trilogy so I will give the other two books a chance before completely dismissing this story. And the fact that I loved SoC doesn’t hurt either. I gave it three stars out of five on Goodreads.

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