Book Review: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Series: Yes - book 1


shadow and bone.jpg

‘I’ve been waiting for you along time, Alina,’ he said.
‘You and I are going to change the world’

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a man of seductive charm and terrifying power. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must 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?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


In preparation for KING OF SCARS, I’ve decided to re-read the preceding Grisha Verse books – and left it to the last minute. SHADOW AND BONE is a hooking adventure and I can’t believe I waited this long to re-read. It made a rickety train journey pass quickly.

The series/’verse’ starts off with a bang. The action is perfectly balanced with Alina’s development. The pacing is perfect, not dragging at any point while still being crystal clear about what’s happening.

I love the world building, the Russian-esque world on the brink of a technological revolution. The end-of-an-era atmosphere adds to the uneasy, unnatural feel of the Darkling and the corrupt court, not to mention naivety/conceitedness of the Grisha.

The magic is so much fun. It’s called a science (Scientist here squealing), with my favourites being the Materialki. There are rules about what each person can do, so I didn’t feel like anyone could just wave their hand and do anything. Alina’s power is slowly built up, as are the different techniques/threats. The Cut is plain horrifying, no matter how many times I read this and the bone-amplifiers are creepy. A dead-animal’s bones about you? No thanks.

Genya is probably my favourite character, with her brightness and the warmth she brings. However, I love her depth and nuance. She’s in an unenviable position, but she’s still strong. The choices she makes are heartbreaking, but so believable.

The Darkling is a horrible villain, so manipulative, cold-hearted and ruthless. I don’t understand why everyone thinks he and Alina should have got together. He’s emotionally abusive. Yes, he’s a brilliant villain – the type we love to hate – but he is not the sort of person who you could have a healthy relationship with. He’s cruel and twisted, not swoon-worthy. It’s toxic and dangerous to idolise characters like this.

The reason this book is lacking half-a-star is because this book lacks the electrifying thrill of a certain privateer, and the heists of later books. I’m reading knowing what the others are like, which makes this feel not quite up to the 5-star mark.

Next book, here I come!

Read my reviews of other books by Leigh Bardugo:

For Young Adult:

The GrishaVerse (this series):

DC Icons:

For Adult:

Alex Stern:

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