Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo


Shadow and Bone has been making big waves in the book blogging community, and I went ahead and bought it to read because I hadn’t heard a single bad thing about it. I’m not quite so gushy about it.

This book is set in Ravka, which has been torn in two by a weird darkness called the Shadow Fold, in which people who enter barely ever make it out alive. On top of that, it’s destroying the land and the people are at war. Amidst it all is Alina Starkov, a scrawny mapmaker traveling with the army. Her regiment gets sent into the Shadow Fold, and while trying to save her friend she unleashes a power that’s been hiding inside her. Realizing that she may be the key to getting rid of the Shadow Fold for good, she’s taken away to train with the Grisha – the magical elite who serve The Darkling, and the King of Ravka. Once she learns to master her new power, she could be the savior the people of Ravka have been waiting for… or she could be their new worst fear.

Sound confusing? It was at first, with all of the made up words and names and stuff. After the first 50 pages or so it all started to make more sense and I was able to get into the story a little bit, and I read this book really quickly. I enjoyed all the Russian-ness of the names and places. I like Alina, although she has some faults. (She’s a little too merciful and righteous for my taste.) I really like her friend / love interest Mal (especially cause it makes me think of Mal from Firefly). Learning about her training and stuff was cool, and I was very torn on what to think of The Darkling at first – he’s very good at switching between good guy and bad guy. There was kind of a lack of secondary characters… she befriended a servant Grisha girl named Genya, but just barely. The only personalities you really get to see are Alina’s, Mal’s, and The Darkling’s. No one else is really memorable.

I didn’t fall in love with this book, and I can’t even say for sure if I’ll read the rest in the trilogy when they come out. While I liked the characters enough that I didn’t want bad things to happen to them, it’s one of those books that seems like the outcome of the last book is kind of a given – girl and boy triumph over evil and live happily ever after together. And while that’s always a good thing and I like happy endings, I just didn’t love the beginning of the trilogy enough to see it all the way to the end.


Sarah Says: 2.5 stars. I’m split right down the middle.





  1. Great review, Sarah. I was the same way. I liked the book and I felt that it was quite fast-moving, but when I finished it, I really didn’t feel overly invested in the series. I really didn’t like the Darkling and didn’t get the love triangle … it was more of a no-brainer for me. And very predictable. I might read the next one in the series, but I’m not going to rush out to do so.


  2. Wow. This is my favorite read of the year, so far. It’s so amazing and crazy how people can feel so different about one book. I think the world-building had me in awe, especially the Unsea scenes. I was totally transported.

    I hate that it didn’t work for you!


      1. Everyone still likes the Darkling. LOL. 🙂
        If anyone makes you feel bad for not liking a book, they deserve a kick in the tuckus.


  3. Hmm, I’ve been wanting to read this one for some time. Most people are enthusiastic about it but I guess it’s not necessarily a book for everyone. It’s nice to get reviews from both perspectives though. And I’ll just have to read it to see if it works for me.


  4. I’m so sad you didn’t love it! 😦 It’s one of my favourite reads of the year so far! But I see your points and know that it doesn’t work for everyone. I really liked both Mal and Alina as well (and lol on Mal reminding you of Mal from Firefly 😉 ). I’m definitely reading the sequel, maybe I’ll be able to convince you to give it another shot 🙂


  5. I’ve been avoiding your review until I wrote mine. I didn’t like it either though I’m more on the dislike side rather than down the middle. (Next week is going to be Dislike City on my blog apparently).
    I didn’t see the plot twist coming, which has been happening to me a lot lately. I’d rather think that authors are getting sneakier rather than my cognitive function is on the decline. I liked Mal and Alina but I don’t see myself continuing with the story either. When it’s at the point where I’m like “what the eff is going on?” in a negative way, it’s a good indicator that I’m out.


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