YA Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Review Time

The Grisha #1  368 Pages  Young Adult
TasCH’s Rating: 4 stars
Published: 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.


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I’ve had Shadow and Bone on my peripheral vision for, um, about 3 years but never really got around to reading it. This or that title always got in the way (also the screaming fan girls kept me at bay because I didn’t want to be disappointed in such a “hot” title). The only reason I picked it up was because I purchased Six of Crows, not knowing that it was connected to this series. Oops! My bad! I was so enthralled with the world building, characters, and setting of Six of Crows that I decided to stop reading it and start on Shadow and Bone because I didn’t want to miss those sweet cameos authors like to throw at you every so often when they write a brand new series that hails from their older one.

Shadow and Bone is really good, just not Six of Crows good. Which is completely understandable given that Shadow and Bone was Leigh Bardugo’s debut title. Even then I still liked this glitzy world of the Grisha’s Leigh has created, with their “small science” (which is pretty much like having low key powers) and high school court life. I fear like we have yet to see the real underbelly of the Grisha world, and I cannot wait for it.

In Shadow and Bone you have Alina, an orphan girl who along with her best friend decided to join the king’s army. Her life is basic, as is she with her scrawniness and dark eye shadows. She is always tired and malnourished, and that is how she sees herself as the weakest person on the earth. Not knowing that inside her lies the power to  vanquish all the darkness in the unsea. The idea behind the “unsea” is darkness come to life, with plenty of creepy bloodthirsty monsters lying about waiting to eat you. Once Alina discovers her power while trying to save her best friend (and herself) from certain death she is whisked off to live a life at court full of advantages. She has a destiny now, all she has to do is play along. Only she doesn’t think she is good enough to save the world, not to mention herself.

The novel at the beginning is good. It has a sense of “definitely been there done that” with the whole “girl who discovers her power and then is made to be the equivalent of a princess”. Who hasn’t read THAT book? But wait, just wait until about halfway through the book and then your world will implode. Yes the first part isn’t the most original, but it is all just build up to when things start getting REAL GOOD. Away go the unoriginal YA plots, in comes danger and intrigue. I really cannot wait to start reading Siege and Storm! I like where things are heading, and who they are heading with.

The Darkling of the novel is intriguing; he is the right hand man of the king and he is the one that keeps the Grisha armies on their toes. He is mysterious, dark, sexy, “kiss you behind closed doors” type. He makes the blood inside you rush… even if things with him don’t seem great you might just throw caution to the wind. Nevertheless, no matter how sexy The Darkling seemed to be, my heart belonged to Mal from the very beginning. He is Alina’s best friend and confidant; the man who stole her heart and mine. He is a goofball, a flirt, the best friend who is soo handsome you don’t think he will look at you twice. But his hearty banter with Alina set my heart a fluttering. Then he comes back into play and… well, he is by far the best.

Alina is an okay main lead; by the end there she started to get on my good graces. She is not a kick ass chick, but might be in her way to becoming one. Is she can let go of her fear, if she can learn to stand up for herself and those around her. We got a glimpse of the girl she can become by the very end of this novel and I hope she doesn’t go back to her old ways in the next book.

I want to see more world building, more darkness, more stakes. But if Six of Crows is any indicator The Grisha series is only about to get better. So let me get back to that.


3 thoughts on “YA Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

  1. I read this awhile back, but now that Six Crows is out, may have to come back to this series. Can’t get over how physically beautiful the Six Crows book is.


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