Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Date: 31st July 2014 – Indigo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to 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? (Goodreads)
I definitely enjoyed this – but is it better than the Six of Crows duology? Read on to find out…
Something I enjoyed about the opening of the novel is that it moves quite quickly – we meet Alina Starkov and her childhood best friend, Mal. We understand her regiment and their goal to cross the Shadow Fold, and we discover Alina has a power beyond her understanding. This meant we could move straight on to the most enjoyable part of the story, where Alina leaves her world behind to train at the capital. We get to meet Genya, who was one my favourites, as well as deal with the snobbery of some of the Grisha. The entire dynamic of the royal court and the capital was really great.
I also enjoyed the mystery of the Darkling, a Shadow Summoner whose intentions are unclear for the most-part of the novel. Trying to work his character out was interesting, though I wasn’t a massive fan of him and Alina as a couple.
Now, while I liked the pacing of the beginning of the novel, the ending was a little slow for me. I found myself growing a little bored as there was a large section of Alina being on the run that I didn’t find particularly interesting. I also wasn’t convinced with the relationships formed between Alina and the Darkling, and Alina and Mal. I accepted the Darkling more as a love interest because of his intrigue, but I saw no redeeming qualities in Mal, especially as he has a part to play in Alina’s powers being blocked. He also does a complete one-eighty at the end in terms of his feelings for her, which felt a little like instalove.
I think I spoiled myself by reading Six of Crows first because I think the characters were much stronger in that series. For me, Alina was pretty bland; I didn’t dislike her, but I didn’t like her either.
As for Mal, I couldn’t stand him. I didn’t like the way he treated Alina for the majority of the novel (you’d never believe they were best friends) and then at the end he does a complete one-eighty.
The Darkling was the most intriguing character because we knew so little about him and he was shrouded in mystery. At times, it was hard to tell if he was a good character or not (which does get answered by the end of the novel). While I wasn’t a massive fan of his relationship with Alina, I am curious to see where his character goes next.
Genya was my absolute favourite. I really sympathised with her situation and how poorly the other Grisha treated her. She added a lot of comedy to the story, although I’m not sure where we stand with the character by the end. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to see more of her, though…
I will admit that I didn’t enjoy this as much as Six of Crows, and that’s largely to do with the characters, however, I did enjoy the story enough to want to continue this series.