Friday, December 6, 2013

Shadow and Bone: A review

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Info: Henry Holt and Co., copyright 2012, 358 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): As if being an orphan and hopelessly in love with her best friend isn't enough of a rocky road, Alina discovers she is the only person who can save the kingdom from darkness.

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?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance

~Goodreads Description~

The Awesome
Sometimes I like the characters but not the world in fantasy novels.  Sometimes the setting is vivid and complete, but I don't really like the storyline or care whether someone lives or dies.  In Shadow and Bone, I enjoyed it all.  The Grisha, these magical men and women, are beautiful, and terrifying, and interesting.  Alina's back story is heartbreaking but powerful, defining who she has become as a fierce, stubborn , resilient young woman.  The Darkling is charming and mysterious.  His power is frightening, but he moves with graceful flare.  The land is filled with tradition and familiarity from the palaces of the king to markets of peasants.  It has it all in an extremely well-written package.

The Not-So-Awesome
Sequels!  The bane of my reading existence!  I need to take a sabbatical so I can catch up on reading.  (A personal not-so-awesome)  When I read, my imagination goes into overdrive.  I don't imagine myself in the story.  Instead it is a movie playing out in my head.  I couldn't quite get there with this story.  Many of the story's cultural influences are Russian (just take a look at the cover), and my unfamiliarity with Russian clothing, food, and tradition got in the way a little bit.  I couldn't picture the world as clearly as I would have liked.

I couldn't put Shadow and Bone down.  Couldn't.  Twenty pages until the end and I had to go to work.  I considered throwing a tantrum...or calling in sick.  While I'm always a sucker for a good love story (which this has), Bardugo has created a complete world filled with action and danger.  I really connected to her storytelling.  Her writing style was familiar.  That's the only way I can describe it.  It wasn't predictable or redundant.  Reading Shadow and Bone just felt like I was settling down with a book that I'd read and love before.

If you like fantasy, adventure, romance, and thrills, definitely check out Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

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