Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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.

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I was completely taken with Leigh Bardugo’s debut. Shadow and Bone is marvelous… seriously. The world is richly detailed, the main and secondary characters are engaging, and the fantasy elements distinctive. I couldn’t put it down!


Alina doesn’t think she’s anything special, until she accidentally taps into previously unrealized power within to save her best friend… power that marks her as Grisha. The Grisha are revered in Ravka and are much above Alina’s current station in life. She is taken under the wing of the Darkling, the mysterious and powerful leader of the Grisha, and is forced to leave her best friend behind in order to train among her new found peers in a world she knows nothing about.


The time Alina spends training with her fellow Grisha successfully allowed the reader to observe external and internal changes of the heroine and was a great opportunity to learn more about the culture and world of the Grisha. I love how much depth and detail is present in Shadow and Bone, as it is usually the aspect of YA Fantasy I find lacking.


Bardugo doesn’t make things easy for the reader. The reader and Alina are often unsure of who to trust, sharing the same insecurities. Except the reader doesn’t have the weight of saving Ravka on their shoulders like the unsuspecting heroine…


And there’s romance! And two possible romantic interests! And no love triangle! How is this possible, you ask? I’m not telling… because that would be very spoilery. And who wants that!?


Great YA fantasy doesn’t come along every day… do not miss Shadow and Bone!

Henry Holt & Co, Hardcover, June 2012, ISBN: 9780805094598, 368 pages.


Be sure to check out the book trailer too!

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7 thoughts on “Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Awesome review! You're so right about world building in the YA genre. I've noticed that, too but just chalked it up to publishers thinking kids have too short of attention spans 🙂 I'm going to definitely check this out!! -Kristin @myparahangover

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