Review 22. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo [Twelve Days of Reviews]

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Title: Shadow and Bone
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Published: June 5th 2012
358 pages

"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.

Dear Leigh Bardugo,

I met you for the first time this year and you just became one of my favourite writers. I felt ashamed of not having read your beautiful stories before. After reading Six of Crows, I plunged into the Grisha world and I fell in love with it. Shadow and Bone is the beginning of Alina's adventures and can't wait to know how her story ends.

Writing: Maybe I shouldn't be comparing the writing style, but I can't avoid it. I read Six of Crows back in January (I know, I always do everything backwards) and I confess it took me sometime to go through the pages of Shadow and Bone because the writing was not as fluid as in Six of Crows. But it's a good thing, right? Because Leigh Bardugo's writing evolved a lot since her debut novel. 

Characters: I may have had a love-hate relationship with Alina. Why? Sometimes she was strong and not afraid of speaking her mind, but sometimes she acted as a damsel in distress for no reason whatsoever (I understand she had jut learned she was Grisha, but she was a powerful Grisha that could kick ass without anyone's help). Sometimes Alina was able to see what was right in front of her, but then she doubted herself (and this is probably what annoyed me the most). But, at the end, Alina was relatable. Her little imperfections (such as, the dark circles under her eyes) and her search to find a where she belongs, made Alina a lot more real to me.

“I'm sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.”

Now, about the love interests ([LOVE TRIANGLE ALERT] yes, sadly there is a love triangle, but by the ending of the story I felt the triangle came to a closure and maybe, just maybe, it will be over by the next novel). The Darkling, the most powerful Grisha, was very mysterious and it was never easy to understand what his intentions were. One moment he was viciously murdering someone, but then all of the sudden he was all soft words and kind smiles. Mal was Alina´s best friend. They met in the orphanage and then they joined the Second Army (allof this made their friendship a lot more credible). He was loyal and would do anything for her - but now that I think of it, the Darkling would also go through hell to protect Alina; but both of them had very different reasons to do so...

Worldbuilding: I loved the world created by Bardugo, but I must say I felt disappointed when I finished reading the final page. I wanted to know more about Ravka (Six of Crows mentions Ravka, but it's a lot more about Ketterdam and the Ice Court). Apart from the Little Palace and the Shadow Fold there wasn't much more worldbuiling. Hopefully, the following sequels will weave this a world to a little more detail because I felt there were so many possibilities and I got stuck between a court intrigues and a terrifying and full of secrets dark sea.

PS: The killing of the stag was very heartbreaking. I'd rather a thousand humans to die than the poor innocent stag. Can it now happen again, Leigh Bardugo? 

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