Book review: Shadow and Bone – By Leigh Bardugo

shadow boneTitle: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Date: 31st July 2014 – Indigo
Pages: 308
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Links to purchase: Amazon UKWaterstones

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)

Initial Thoughts

I definitely enjoyed this – but is it better than the Six of Crows duology? Read on to find out…

Plot

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.

Characters

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…

Overall

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.

My rating:

three of five

Book review: Crooked Kingdom – By Leigh Bardugo

crookedTitle: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Date: 27th September 2016 – Orion’s Children’s Books
Pages: 536
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off the most daring heist imaginable.
But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re fighting for their lives.
Double-crossed and badly weakened, they’re low on resources, allies and hope.
While a war rages on the city’s streets, the team’s fragile loyalties are stretched to breaking point.
Kaz and his crew will have to make sure they’re on the winning side… no matter what the cost.
(Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

I absolutely loved the first part of this duology – it actually might be one of my favourites of the year – so I was curious to see if the sequel would live up to Six of Crows. Needless to say, while the plot definitely became more complicated, the relationships explored in this book are stronger than ever, and I really enjoyed it!

Characters

Kaz – still as terrifying as ever! I enjoyed exploring the psyche of such a complex character, and how he dances with the line between ruthless and evil. Seriously, things got dark with his character. When you pair that darkness with some of the other ‘lighter’ characters, it made for a fun dynamic. Not to mention how far he went to protect Inej. Seriously, the ships in this book are awesome!

Inej – first of all, the opening chapters of Inej being captured were nerve-wrecking, but there was no doubt in my mind that she was capable of handling herself. Like Kaz, we get more backstory with her, particularly to do with her family and where she gets her climbing ability from, which only made me like her even more. And when she comes across an opponent with even better skills, I was anxious for Inej to beat her.

Jesper – there’s a clear theme in this book with all this family exploration! We got to meet Jesper’s dad and learn about his mother, as well as what being a Fabrikator has done to his family. This book took what was a comedic character initially, and added more depth (not that there wasn’t any before). And of course, I was really looking forward to his relationship with Wylan, which was pure perfection.

Wylan – if you didn’t sympathise with him in the first book, you definitely will in this, as you learn just how vicious his father was to him, and continues to be. His stepmother however, was actually a hilarious addition, just by how irritating she was and how much Kaz wanted to kill her. Wylan was still the innocent one in the group, but he did learn how to stand on his own two feet and really earn his place in the group. By the end, he was completely different to when we first met him.

Nina – following from Six of Crows, Nina struggled through her addiction to jurda parem, which I thought was handled really well without dominating the other storylines. When her addiction started to affect her powers, things really kicked up a notch, especially as her ability came into fruition at the end of the novel – in what I think made for a very comedic scene. I do think her story could be continued, especially after THAT ending…

Matthias – we didn’t learn as much about him, but we did get to see his character come to terms with the prejudice of the Druskelle towards Grisha, and his slowly changing attitude. Matthias’ character probably went through one of the biggest changes, which only made the ending more tragic…

Plot

As I said before, the plot was a lot more complicated than Six of Crows. It’s no longer a heist story, but more about revenge on Jan Van Eck, which gets ever so complicated when the likes of Pekka Rollins and other factions become involved…

And that leads to a very action-packed story filled with so many twists and turns. Every time Kaz made a plan, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for something to go wrong – which most of the time it did. Plus, with every plan, all the protagonists had a personal problem to deal with, whether that be jurda parem or a family issue, which only made me love the characters more.

Again, like the first book, the character relationships were what really made the story. While there was a lot more world-building and political complications, the characters remained integral to the story, especially as they all came from such different backgrounds but managed to work together. The comedic moments were hilarious, but the dark times did get really dark – again, I reiterate that ending. If you’re reading this hoping for the same excitement from Six of Crows, you won’t be disappointed.

Overall

As a conclusion to the duology, I think this was a great ending, and while some of the political aspects were a little confusing, that didn’t take me out of the story. I would love to see these characters again, as I do think there are plenty more stories to be told in this universe!

My rating:

five of five

 

 

Book review: Six of Crows – By Leigh Bardugo

six of crowsTitle: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Date: 2nd June 2016 – Orion Children’s Books
Pages: 495
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first. (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

Why did it take me so long to read this book!? My favourite part of any novel is really exploring the character development, and we got a lot of that here. Pair that with strong world building and magic, and you’ve got a pretty awesome book.

Characters

Kaz Brekker is the mastermind that brings all the other characters together to complete the heist. I would almost consider him an anti-hero, but his motivations are understandable, especially when we learn about his backstory, and I enjoyed how ruthless he was throughout. Plus, his dynamic with Inej was great. I want them together nowwww!

Inej herself had her own tragic backstory with once belonging to a menagerie, and this actually dealt with an issue I was surprised to see in a YA novel, and it was this issue that made her need for the money very clear. As soon as we meet her, her skillset is made very clear, and she becomes an important part of the team.

Wylan stood out the most for me because he was so innocent and pure and I just wanted to give him a hug because he was clearly not made for such a cruel world (and his dad is kind of an ass, so there’s that). Also, if he and Jesper don’t get together in the next one, I’m going to scream. (I’m clearly all about the ships in this series!)

Jesper is one of the two characters that adds a little fun to the story. His addiction to gambling is a very concerning issue, even though he doesn’t necessarily see it that way, and his confidence within himself is really endearing. His loyalty to Kaz is commendable, even though his addiction does cause some problems down the line.

Nina is the second character that adds fun into the mix. She’s flirtatious, loves her food and has some really cool abilities as well as a very complicated relationship with Matthias that adds for some intrigue. I couldn’t stop laughing throughout at some of her one-liners.

Matthias’ seriousness offers some great comedic comments when paired with the other characters, which is why it was so fun reading about all their interactions. He’s the most naïve in a way, as his entire life has been about hunting Grisha, and he comes to realise that perhaps they’re not as evil as he thought.

Plot

The idea of telling a heist story in a fantasy setting was genius in my opinion, and this book was filled with so many twists and turns that I didn’t know what was going to happen next. The dynamic between all the characters really made it for me, since there was so much conflict and all the characters have such enriched backstories that you can understand all their motives. I love books with multiple POVs, and this book had so many, each of them somehow managing to be distinct.

Since we have so many characters, there are also many villains to contend with, and each of them feel like very real threats, from the Druskelle, to Pekka Rollins, to Jan Van Eck, and all of them had me hungry to see their downfalls by the end of this series.

I will say that the world building was done really well, but since there was so much detail, at times things would go over my head, or I’d forget certain conflicts between certain civilisations, but the map does partially help with this.

Overall

This book has become one of my new favourites; from the world building, to the diverse characters, to the hilarious interactions to the awesome ships.

My rating:

five of five