Title: Shadow & Bone [Goodreads][Amazon]
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release Date: June 5, 2012
In My Opinion: Must. Read. Now!
One Line: An original tale of fantasy and magic that I couldn’t put down.
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.
Where do I even begin?! Maybe with how Leigh created such a magical and original world filled with darkness, adventure, and love in the throws of an ongoing war. Or how Shadow and Bone has such a wonderful female lead, Alina, who starts off frail and innocent, but slowly learns her destiny, inner strength, and what makes her truly special. Leigh’s writing is superb and refreshing, purely captivating. I love that she was able to paint this picture of a fantasy world, similar to Russian culture, in a way that wasn’t boring at all. She gave just the right amount of detail in terms of scenery and characters so I never felt like it was too much.
I did not skim or skip over pages here, people! That’s how thoroughly entertaining and engrossing it was.
The setting is during a crazy war that’s been going on for several years. The Grisha are basically warlocks and witches who work alongside the King of Ravka and his people against the Shadow Fold, which is simply this place of darkness where all these gruesome creatures come out to play, and by play I mean attack and kill you. The story follows Alina, who learns she has an amazing magical power of her own, and slowly discovers how to control it and use it to fight her enemies. Her character grows a lot throughout the story and though she often doubts herself and questions her abilities, she did so in a way that wasn’t annoying like a lot of female leads tend to be, so that was great.
Oh, and don’t get me started on Mal. There was one part, something he says literally caused me to gasp because that moment was so touching and sweet, I totally swooned for him right then and there. It’s like, just when you think you couldn’t care less for his character, or you’re wondering how significant his role is in the story, BAM!, Leigh throws a curve ball at you and you’re swept off your feet. But this love is not without its complications as the Darkling, the leader of the Grisha, plays a very important role and there are definitely some thrilling moments with him as well. Although there’s not a lot in the way of romance throughout the book, it’s enough to keep you going and really, the focus of the story is so much more than that.
There are a lot of secrets and surprises in this book and it really draws you in right from the beginning. No frills or fluff! A truly epic high-fantasy read that will have you mesmerized from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what happens next!