By Leigh Bardugo, published by Indigo (Orion).
Goodreads synopsis: 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 fulfill 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?
My review: Possibly the best fantasy book I have read all year. Shadow and Bone was that amazing. The beginning totally hooked me in, and I became absorbed into the plot within a matter of pages!
The story started off with Alina and Mal, as children, and I felt so much sympathy for the poor orphans. Throughout the following chapters, right up until Alina was taken away from her best friend, I could really see a strong, realistic relationship between the two. It totally broke my heart when they were separated! As I followed Alina throughout her epic journey, I really grew attached to her character. Her narration was quite basic but expressed all of her emotions really well. I hated it when she seemed to fall for the Darkling, but then grew to love her again as truths about him were revealed and she went back to loving Mal. She was a really strong protagonist, overall, and not just because of her extreme powers to conduct light.
The whole idea was rich with imagination, and so fun to read about. The Grisha are like sorceresses, with amazing powers. They, along with the equally fantastical backdrop, made for a really gripping story full of secrets, lies, magic and power. I’ll here elaborate on what I thought of the setting- because I loved it so much! I normally like to read Urban Fantasy- set in the modern world. I don’t really read books set hundreds of years before or in whole new imagined fantasy kingdoms. But Ravka was so amazing. It was based on a tsarist-Russia, ruled by the rich and the Grisha. As I was drawn further and further into this magical, unique world, I grew to love it so much. The setting truly was breathtaking, and although magical and beyond belief, realistic to me.
The plot was absolutely brilliantly structured with lots of great plot twists. It worked perfectly with the setting and was really enjoyable thanks to such unforgettable characters. There were so many unpredictable aspects to the story, like the romantic twist with the Darkling- I actually pictured him as super-old, but it turned out he was young looking when Alina described him as she fell in love with him. The events played out really well and I honestly would not have had the plot in any other way!
Overall, Shadow and Bone was a really amazing read. It had so many great twists and turns that kept me wondering how everything would turn out. The relationships between the characters, especially Mal and Alina, were so realistic and believable. I really loved reading about the two protagonists! The ending was really beautiful and now I really can’t wait for the release of the sequel: Siege and Storm- which will be published together with Shadow and Bone in early June! I really can’t recommend this read enough, it was so amazing. whatever your preferred genre, I’m sure you’ll love this brilliant debut title!
My Goodreads rating: 5/5!
I received Shadow and Bone from the publisher, in exchange for a review.