Published: June 5th 2012
By: Henry Holt and Co. BYR
Series: The Grisha #1
Genres: Young-Adult, Fantasy
My Rating: 4 Stars
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.
Shadow and Bone took me a while to get into. After reading Six of Crows last year, I wanted to know more about the Grisha. It started out slowly, but I never once thought of giving up. The world of Ravka is sort of overwhelming. Names and places had me doing double takes. Seriously, I had to sound most of them out to try and get the correct pronunciation. Luckily, I have Google.
Little orphan Alina. Sorry, that didn’t come out right. Alina is a character that I am having a hard time liking. It’s because the author made her into a self conscious heroine. And, as soon as you meet her, you know that she is going to be unique. In the beginning, I had no clue what her character would be like, seeing as she was a child. Then, she starts to grow into a powerful girl, but she still had this air about her that irked the hell out of me. It was hard for her to believe that she is this amazing person. The first half of the book is mostly getting to know Alina and everyone around her, as well as the world.
I love that this story has Russian influences all throughout. It’s so darn refreshing as a setting, and I think that is what makes this fantasy a little different from others. The nuances are that Bardugo gives you these amazing action scenes and dark antagonists to work with. Yes, mostly all fantasy has dark beings, but this felt different than what I’ve read so far. The Darkling fascinated me to no end. Nothing screams caution like a powerful being. I’m honestly not sure what the aim is yet, as far as the romance goes. There’s too much story left to get presumptuous about it all, so I’ll save my rants for the next book. Still, I like Mal. I admire friendship in romantic relationships more than anything.
All that goodness aside, it took me way too long to get into the Grisha world. The pacing started out slow, but picked up in certain areas, which kept me going. I like this book very much, and will definitely be reading book 2 soon. If you’ve read Six of Crows, giving the Grishaverse a shot wouldn’t be a bad idea. It gives you more incite into what the Grisha are capable of. Not my favorite fantasy, but it’s definitely one that I am looking forward to knowing more about.