Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Published June 5th, 2012
Henry Holt and Co.
358 pages (Hardcover)
Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, the one thing she could rely on was her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they’re sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.

When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. Ripped from everything she knows, she is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the one person with the power to destroy the Fold.

Swept up in a world of luxury and illusion, envied as the Darkling’s favorite, Alina struggles to fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But as the threat to the kingdom mounts, Alina uncovers a secret that sets her on a collision course with the most powerful forces in the kingdom. Now only her past can save her . . . and only she can save the future. (From Goodreads)
 Magical.  No pun intended, but that is the best way to describe Shadow and Bone.

Something about the Russia-based backdrop added to the mystical feel.  I've always wanted to travel to Russia, and it has always had a wonderous and magical feel to it.  The world Leigh Bardugo felt very real, a quality I like to see in fantasy novels.

The characters didn't feel overly complex, but it was easy to connect with them.  I felt Alina and Mal's pain and wanted them to find each other badly.  The Darkling was a character I loved to hate, and I had a desperate desire to find out his real name.  My favourite character had to be Genya.  I just found her so intriguing and became interested in her side story.  There's so much to her not revealed in the story (spin-off?!?!)

The story got a little slow in the middle, and it took a while for me to grasp many of the Russian-esque terminology that was created.  For example, do you think I could figure out what a Corporalki was?  Nope, I was lost.  I did get the hang of it eventually, but for a bit I questioned whether I ever would.  The ending made up for some of the struggle in the middle.  It felt a little rushed, as a lot was crammed in there.  I thought the story was about to end about three times.  It was strong though, and while not an OMG-type cliffhanger, there was enough questions to excite me for the next book.

I liked Shadow and Bone.  Any book that transports me to a more mystical version of Russia, and with such enticing characters, is a winner.

Much love, Samantha


  1. Really good review. I've got this on my kindle and have been considering a read of it but it's always nice to get someone else's opinion!

  2. Still haven't seen this in my bookstore. I really need to catch up on the latest YA books. New Follower.

    Starry Storm


Thank you for your comment! I absolutely love reading them and responding!