Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ARC Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. BYR
Publication Date: June 5th, 2012

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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I almost don't even want to post a review of this book; I almost just want to say, "Go. Buy. It. NOW!", and leave it at that.  Shadow and Bone is THAT good, people!  I can honestly put this High Fantasy is the same class as the brilliantly beautiful Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  In fact, when someone asks me (or even when I'm not asked, because, yes, I loved this book enough to rant to strangers!), I say, "OMG!  No words!  It's the best High Fantasy since Graceling!".  Obviously, I've given this book 5+++ stars...  That should be enough of an endorsement, but in case it's not, read on...

Leigh Bardugo is a brilliant storyteller.  She manages to weave a multi-layered tale of magic, love, betrayal, desire, and darkness against a beautifully rendered backdrop of a land both gorgeous and twisted.  Her words flow like honey, allowing the reader to savor each and every one, while becoming completely absorbed into Alina's world, experiencing a full range of emotion that connects and bonds tightly.

And speaking of Alina...  Human to the very core, but a kick-ass female heroine, nonetheless.  Alina differs from some of my favorite heroines in that respect.  I love my strong female leads like Katsa (Graceling), Katniss (The Hunger Games), and Tris (Divergent); we all do, but they are often so very kick-ass that they sometimes lack vulnerability.  Alina is as insecure as any teenage girl, and it shows, but when she needs to be strong, they don't come any stronger.  There were times when I thought her humanity would get her killed, but in the end, it's what saves her, and I love her for that!  As far as the other characters are concerned, there are several really great ones.  They were well developed enough that you understand their importance, but they never take the focus off of the most important characters.  And of course, there is something of a love triangle...  I found Mal endearing and perfect for Alina, but damn, that Darkling is one sexy, if *ahem* dark, dude.

This story was so original, with such depth, I could not put it down.  With every word, I became more invested, and was frequently and pleasantly surprised when it would change direction so seamlessly that my reactions were delayed.  I loved how the betrayals almost didn't feel that way and I loved how perceived betrayals were anything but.  Nothing was easy in this story, but it still left me satisfied, and it doesn't get better than that!  I wish I could tell you more because I SO want to discuss, but I really need each and every one of you to go buy this book.  NOW!  You won't be disappointed!  I can't wait for next year's release of of book number two, Siege and Storm.  Here's to hoping I can say it is the best HF sequel since Fire!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ++++ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  There are a few hot and heavy make-out scenes, but nothing graphic.  Otherwise, this book is clean.  I would say it is fine for 5th grade and up+ (ages 10+).


  1. Okay, I have to get my hands on this book (after I shorten my TBR pile, that is). I am getting interested in the fantastical stories. Also, I love,love the cover.

  2. I am going straight to add this to my to-read list now! I love your review and it sounds like a great book. The cover wouldn't have caught my attention particularly but your review sure has. :D


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