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.
Prior to reading this book I had resigned myself to never having the opportunity to read YA Fantasy of the likes of Trudi Canavan’s The Black Magician Trilogy. A lot of the Fantasy that’s marketed as YA these days tends towards paranormal romance, and I had come to terms with getting my high fantasy kicks elsewhere. Shadow and Bone opened up a whole new world for me and proved that YA Fantasy does exist, and it’s great! This book combines masterful world building with likeable characters and a plot rich in intrigue and betrayal.
I have a hate-love relationship with Alina – I hated her in the beginning for her foolhardy naivety (seriously, the childhood she led made me expect a harder, meaner character), but then loved her by the end (she develops into a thoughtful caring person with a lot of inner strength). Alina’s character brings out the YA aspect of the novel: her development is a driving element in the plot and ultimately brings about the kick-ass conclusion of the story.
One of the things I find YA misses most is quality world development, but the intriguing world of Ravka suffers no such problems. The world, its magic system and the chilling Shadow Fold are all hooks that drag you into the story, and before you know it, you are completely immersed in it. The writing is mesmerising, vividly bringing this exotic world to life as you read. Leigh Bardugo certainly knows how to engage her readers through her writing!
Shadow and Bone is easily described: a brilliantly crafted YA fantasy. I strongly urge readers to give this book a chance, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
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