Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Source: Book Purchased by Reviewer
Source: Book Purchased by Reviewer
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
Once upon a time in a far away place there lived a girl who believed that books contained magic that could solve any worldly woe. She was determined to fill her life with the words found in these books with hopes that she would find the answers to her personal questions. Unfortunately through her journey she discovered that not all books were as magical as she would have liked them to be. There were books that contained emotions powerful enough to make her cry as she read, then there were books that made her read the same sentence four times because it never made sense. Then there was Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.
Before I get into the complete review let me explain the world you are going to walk into. The book takes place in Russia. This Russia is split into four sections, there is Fjerda to the north, Shu han in the south and our home land of Ravka is split in two by a river of dark sand called the unsea. The unsea is where all the big bad beasties live and no one wants to get caught there alone. Not that you would last long, the unsea is pitchblack and inhabited by creatures called volcra. Think of your worst nightmare and let it have a family reunion where you are the main course instead of burgers.
In this world there are two types of people, people with abilities called the Grisha, and people without abilities called otkazat’sya(nothing). All otkazat’sya are tested at a young age to see if they have Grisha ability. If they do, they are recruited to the second army to hone their skill and become warriors. The Grisha are split into three categories, Corporalki (people that can heal and manipulate blood and organs), Etheralki (people that can manipulate air, fire and water) , and materialki (people who can build/design and chemist). One piece of advice I will give is that you get ready to mash up some words. Most things are very Russian but it gives into the world you are walking through.
Now to the juicy stuff. The story is about a girl name Alina Starkov who is an orphan and is part of the first army to the king with her BFF Malyen Oretsev. He of course is the hottie mc hot-hot of the town and she is in love with him and he has no clue. Mal is a tracker (the best tracker ever) and Alina is an apprentice the cartographer. They are being sent to the unsea to cross and bring back goods from West Ravka. Needless to say the troops are apprehensive about the journey but they are mandated to go so they just have to suck it up and hope for the best.
I looked up to see Mal’s familiar face, a smile in his bright blue eyes as he fell into step beside me. “C’mon,” he said. “One foot in front of the other. You know how it’s done.”
“You’re interfering with my plan”
“Yes. Faint, get trampled, grievous injuries all around.”
“That sounds like a brilliant plan.”
“Ah, but if I’m horribly maimed, I won’t be able to cross the fold.”
Mal nodded slowly. “I see. I can shove you under a cart if that would help.”
“I’ll think about it,” I grumbled, but I felt my mood lifting all the same. Pg.10-11
The relationship between these two make you want to scream. Even though you don’t really get to see them flourish because Alina is found to have a rare and powerful ability that even she was not aware she had. This ability pulls her away from Mal and into the arms of the leader of the second army called the darklilng. When he finds out about Alina’s power he is immediately all I must protect her at all cost and this means taking her away from the position she held in the first army and taking her to the little palace at the captiol of Ravka called Os Alta.
In Os Alta we watch Alina transform from lost simple orphan to developing Grisha who is still trying to figure out what this new found power means for her and what the darkling really has up his sleeve. Leigh Bardugo is a cruel mind manipulator and I love her for it. You never know when the twist is coming and if you do time it right then you don’t anticipate what the twist will be. I found myself many times re-reading passages to make sure it was her and not me that this was happening it to. This tale is action packed and full of feels. Good feels, ugly feels, and very humorous. I love the conversations of the characters and the development of the plot. No it is not truly one thing or another but what in real life is? You never really know what a characters true intentions are when you feel you do please change your mind. This book flies buy and when you are done and you don’t have book two handy you will be upset with yourself. I don’t give 5 stars often but this story was well worth it.