Book Review || Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

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.

  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
  • Pages: 369
  • Edition: Henry Holt and Co., Kindle (June 2012)

[Published June 2012 | Source: Goodreads]

Just so you know, Six of Crows brought me here.

When I first started reading SoC, I didn’t know what to expect. I felt a bit lost in the beginning, the Grisha terms had me confused and clueless most of the time. I know it’s my fault for not reading the first three books that started it all, so… after finishing the epic first book of my new favorite duology, I decided to get to know the world of Grisha a bit more before diving into its second book—Crooked Kingdom.

Shadow and Bone offers a very good introduction to the Grishaverse. I love how rich the world building is and how it slowly guided me into understanding the hierarchy and terminologies.

Inspired by imperial Russia, the Grishaverse is a thrilling world to be in. With power, action, and intrigue surrounding its corners, it’s not so hard to get immersed in this realm. The magic (or should I say, small science?) system is fascinating, and I love how organized the Grisha classifications are. They can easily be identified by the colors of their uniforms, as each color represents a different order.

I get it now why a lot of readers are raving about this trilogy. It has a very exciting storyline and this alternate world that Leigh Bardugo had built is simply addictive. However, as awesome as this book sounds, there’s a major element in this book that just felt weak for me—the characters.

As I’ve said, I have to like the characters for me to really love the book, but Shadow and Bone is a big disappointment on that part. I couldn’t care for the main character, Alina. She’s just dull and unrelatable in my opinion. It’s just frustrating that of all the characters, the MC really has to be my least favorite. A lot of minor characters are much more interesting than her, tbh.

And Mal? who’s Mal? JK. Mal is alright, a so-so character. Although I couldn’t see what Alina saw in him that she’s head over heels for him even though he’s openly flirting with other girls in front of her… for years. But why do I care anyway? I’m not Alina.

This book tries to focus on romance but I just couldn’t care about the romance between these two characters. I can’t ship characters I don’t care about.

But even though the protagonist fell short, I think Leigh Bardugo can really write villains and grey characters beautifully. The Darkling is this book’s saving grace. Thank you for giving us a mysterious and complex “villain”, at least there’s a character to ponder upon. At least there’s a character that makes us guess what his next moves will be.

I came here because of Six of Crows but I stayed for the plot and world building, It’s just amazing how it sucks you in. So far, I can say that I liked this book but not as much as I thought I would. The only thought I had in mind after finishing this book is that, the Darkling must’ve been so tired for carrying all of the other characters.

For those of you who started with SoC (like me) and debating whether to read the Grisha Trilogy or just skip it, I’d say if you really want to get to know the world and understand why some things are the way they are in SoC, this will be very helpful.

For those of you who’s wondering if reading this book is worth it…

For the world? yes.

For the storyline? yes.

For awesome side characters? yes.

For the complex, mysterious, beautiful villain called Darkling? yes.

For the flat protagonist and a romance that you just couldn’t care about? no.

“The problem with wanting, is that it makes us weak.”

— Darkling, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

3.5 / 5

4 thoughts on “Book Review || Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo”

  1. I read this book ages ago, but then I never felt the need to read the other 2 books until the series. I keep thinking I need to go back and read the entire trilogy… I hope you enjoy the next book more than this one! It’s supposed to get good! 🙃

    Liked by 1 person

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