For some reason the start of February wasn’t the best reading quantity wise. Maybe because school was just getting started and books had to be read for school. So I decided to re-read a favourite series of mine, the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi to get me back into the swing of things and since then I’ve been right on track. As I was taking part in the ReadThatTrilogy read-a-thon I needed to pick up another trilogy straight away and I went for the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo because I’d heard many good things and needed to keep on my good reading trail. I ended up really enjoying this book, I was pleasantly surprised. Here are my thoughts:
Synopsis: 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.
Immediately, judging by the title and the cover I know I would have picked this book up and read it even if I’d heard nothing about it. It has a very interesting premise that drew me to the story. Plus when I opened it, I saw it had a map. I love maps! (Excuse the geekiness). Upon inspection of the map I knew that this book would be like nothing I’d ever read before. With strange and endearing names and a huge slit down the middle called the Shadow Fold I knew I was in for a rollercoaster road.
When the book starts I could see straight away that the main character and I would click. She had some A+ sassy remarks and stood up for herself in a I’m-a-feminist kind of way which I loved. Alina’s journey of self discovery and revelation was very pleasant to read about but also had an air of mystery. What happened to her as a child? Though I will admit when you get past the original info-dump at the start of the novel I could predict where the book was heading however this didn’t really deter my enjoyment. Some of her decisions were typical and a bit silly, though.
Upon meeting the Darkling, the book took a definitive turn. I’m immediately fell in love with his magic and him in general. His abilities were amazing and chilling at the same time which took me by surprise. In saying that, readers know immediately that he has the potential to be dangerous, his power is basically unlimited. But when he enters into the story stakes are pushed high. Assassins, magic, creatures and politics all come into play, all factors of a good fantasy. He’s a very hard character to read, all part of his seduction I suppose. I often found myself wondering what he was thinking.
And then there’s Genya. Lordy, I loved this chick! She was fun and lively but kick-ass at the same time, the perfect inside friend really.
Let’s talk about the magic system. You get a bit of a run down before starting the book about what everyone does and their orders etc. but I ended up absolutely adoring the magic in this book. However one order specifically could have used more clarification about what they could and couldn’t do. You’ve got elemental magic, bodily magic and material magic. There’s an air of suspicion around one of the magic groups though. All to be revealed in good time I suppose. Alina discovering her magic was one of the best scenes in the whole book. Also the Russian themes were very intriguing. The names were fun to learn and the world building done rather well (there could always be more in books like this).
When I was writing my notes I actually wrote “starting to feel like Mean Girls a bit.” All the talk about ‘I’m better than you’ and ‘don’t be friends with those people’ got a bit strange and distracting but nonetheless added to the story in some aspects.
The romance started off a bit slow but picked up as the book went along. Actually there was almost zero romance and then suddenly a strange burst of it. And then bam third wheel!
Speaking of, I really didn’t like Mal. He was mean and jealous and I preferred the Darkling as a love interest. And when ‘Malina’ started to develop I really found no chemistry or interest in their relationship which was a real shame. I guess I don’t like changing love interests very much so this side of the story annoyed me. Plus I got the sense that Mal just didn’t really support Alina, like he’d prefer her to just be normal.
And then the story started to feel very Graceling-like, survival and pointless escape trip. I really didn’t like Graceling so I was hoping this wouldn’t go on for long and luckily it didn’t. But the forced time between the couple was a little cringe worthy. They are a bit boring and whiny.
And then one of the characters just completely changes. I hate when authors do this. I found myself wondering constantly ‘Is this character really all that they seem?’ I guess I did enjoy the mystery surrounding this conundrum.
The ending was very powerful and well done. We saw the full extent of the characters’ growth and ability which I loved. Overall I enjoyed this book a whole lot and will be picking up the second book Siege and Storm straight away. I gave this book:
Sorry for the very disorganised layout for the review, I was just trying to get it all down when I was writing my thoughts throughout. As always thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you in my next post.