Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Hello my lovely readers,

Welcome to my first official post on the re-launch of Fangirl Fever! I’m excited, I hope you are too 🙂

In the past few months, I barely had the time to pick up and binge read a good book. Suddenly, our production at school ended and I was faced with an unfamiliar sensation, an emptiness that I could now fill with whatever I wanted to. On a whim, I decided to fill it with Shadow and Bone. Something about Shadow and Bone fascinated me, made me take the book everywhere (even to my dance class!) and kept me up till the late hours of the night just to read more. It’s something I used to do a lot, and am so happy to do again now that I have the time. It compelled me to write a review and get this blog started again, so without further delay, here’s that review.

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I Love. This. Cover.

Shadow and Bone follows the story of Alina, a girl living in a world torn apart by dark energy. Ravka, the country where the story takes place, is socially divided among the regular people and the Grisha, who wield special powers and live lavishly under the King. Ravka is also split apart by the “Shadow Fold”, a dark and mysterious strip of land that challenges, and most often kills, anyone who attempts to pass through it.  When Alina is tasked with making it through the treacherous Shadow Fold with her regiment, the vindictive monsters who live there attack and trigger a unique power within her she never knew she had. Turns out, this power could be the key to saving Ravka and eliminating the Shadow Fold for good. Alina is unwittingly thrust into the Grisha world and must navigate her way around intense training, court politics, and the pressure of her new responsibilities.

(If you don’t want spoilers, plz leave now and then read and then come back and then share your thoughts <3).

The magical world Leigh Bardugo created for her us was entrancing and just extraordinary enough to be able to carry such an intense storyline, while not overly confusing us. At first, I did have difficulty getting to know the world, as Bardugo just threw us in there and expected us to know things when they’d never been explained to us before. I was frustrated because I didn’t understand the systems, the magic, the hierarchy or any of the terms being used. However, I actually came to appreciate her style of writing towards the end, because if she had taken the time to explain every part of this magical world it would’ve felt too slow and fake. Too “I used my blahblah to do this. A blahblah is this. In this world, we use blahblahs to do different things and this is how it all works and blahblah.” The way Bardugo illustrates Ravka makes the reader feel like they’re really being exposed to the world all at once, less a storytelling and more a real experience.

I also really enjoyed the characters in the novel and loved that there was so much depth to them. Alina, while not the strongest protagonist I’ve read in a novel, charmed me with her witty narration and marvel at the new world around her. Mal, who I didn’t love so much to begin with, bared a completely different side of himself towards the end of the novel that made me cry. The Darkling – don’t even get me started on him. I have so many opinions. I loved him in the beginning, all dark, mysterious, funny, sarcastic and never really THAT evil. And then, he was seductive, passionate, caring and considerate.  And then, he really was THAT evil. It all happened like the flip of a switch, I loved him, and then I suddenly just hated him. Low key strongly dislike Leigh for doing that to me because it was going to be all perfect and power coupley and akjsdgldbwuepv.

Why, Leigh, why??

I was mad about it for quite a while, until I got to the part where Mal finds Alina when she’s on the run and they have this wonderful heartwarming, albeit dangerous, journey together. We uncover a lot more about Mal as a character, his habits and quirks and it seems like tracking is a special ability of his. I think there might be more to this tracking ability than just a really high level skill – maybe Mal is some sort of Grisha or has special Grisha genes in him that are recessive, only manifesting in his tracking ability? I don’t know, so many theories so many, questions!

Another character that I really enjoyed was Genya. She’s is such a bright and bubbly comic relief in the moments where Alina is feeling down or things start to get a little too intense. Her presence and dialogue are always much appreciated and very enjoyable. However, there is more to Genya that what it seems. She is a servant, yet highly regarded by royalty due to her ability to erase blemishes on the face and basically make people look really pretty. She is also subjected to some sort of sexual harassment by the King which is not something Bardugo went too in depth with, and I really want to see this part of Genya open towards us more. It is always so refreshing when a character starts to really appear three-dimensional to us, even if what causes this is something awful like Genya’s situation. I also really enjoy the jab at beauty standards Bardugo is trying to achieve with the whole idea of beauty connected to status and royalty. It is definitely easy to pick up on Bardugo’s criticism on the unnecessary importance we place on beauty standards and it adds a whole new level of depth to Bardugo’s writing. It transitions from a magical world to social commentary and leaves the reader with food for thought.

Okay, I think that’s where I’m going to leave it at with this review. I could probably write a lot more but then you’d be reading a lot more and I’d rather you take that time to comment your thoughts below or just go pick up the book and read it if you haven’t already! Overall, I really enjoyed Shadow and Bone and was so enthralled with the first novel in the Grisha Trilogy. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next two!

Thanks for reading!

Karina ❤

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