The Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone

“I’m sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.”
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha # 1
Publication: June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Pages: 368
Source: Christmas bookhaul
Summary from Goodreads:
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.

My Thoughts:
My heart hurts right now. Goodness… I can’t even comprehend half of the feelings soaring through my chest. I am ecstatic, I am destroyed, I am everything and yet I still want more. Shadow and Bone is a book I have wanted to read for a while and that want increased ten-fold after reading the amazing Six of Crows this past year. I have to tell you – I have just found a revolutionary fantasy novel that took every single expectation I had and blew them out the window with a golden burst of sunlight. This book is everything, this series is going to be everything I think I’ve ever wanted. I cannot remember the last time I rooted so hard for the bad guy before in my life. With a startlingly rich world, a heartbreaking story line, and characters that will make you feel all the feels, Shadow and Bone  a phenomenal work of art.
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
All the feels! Ugh… I swear, this book has completely changed the way I feel about certain things and I can’t tell if it’s okay or not. First of all, the world. Oh my goodness, the world of Ravka is a carefully crafted masterpiece pulling inspiration from Russia and IT. IS. FAN-FREAKEN-TASTIC. The world is so complex and well thought out. Each and every little detail is apparent actually means something. There is so much that goes on in the world alone. The development of the Grisha orders and their powers, the way they are designated, all of it. Each and every piece was handled masterfully and it was such a treat to finally read a fantasy novel where the world is totally solid. I was never confused about what was happening, things are sort of self explanatory. The world alone was flawlessly executed and one of the best creations I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
“And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.”
The characters… they are perfection. Honestly, this entire book is perfection – but the characters are just the icing on a really, really delicious cake. Alina Starkov, our protagonist, is not the normal Young Adult protagonist. She is her own worst enemy throughout most of the novel – not outstanding circumstances. She basically hates herself. She hates the way she looks, she hates how she cannot control what she is, she hates how she was forced to leave the army and become a Grisha. It was quite the breath of fresh air if you ask me. I mean, she had her faults and what not  – I was extremely annoyed when she just took off and ran without trying to figure things out on her own even though she was right in the end (You know what I’m talking about).  I guess, what I am trying to say is that I love Alina because she is not exceptional save for her power – which she pretty much loathes for a majority of the book. She is not physically strong, she is not a badass or extremely smart – she just is. BUT, she is emotionally strong. She lives through hell and back and she just keeps on trucken. That’s strength.
“This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.”
The Darkling. HOLY FREAKEN CRAP. Ugh. The Darkling is so many things all at once and it hurts so badly to even think about it. The Darkling is good, The Darkling is evil, The Darkling is simply The Darkling and holy hot damn. He is terrifying, swoon worthy, and I hate to love him while loving to hate him. Or is that switched? I don’t know anymore. He is sort of the big wig, the second most powerful man in Ravka save for the king and he is the one who controls all Grisha. He is one giant enigma that will leave you breathlessly panting for more while simultaneously wanting to strangle him.
“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.”
Mal… just, D’Awwww…. Mal is Alina’s best friend since childhood and he has slowly become even more to her than that. He is Alina’s everything. He is what she thinks about when she is gone, he is what drives her to be better – and visa versa.  He is the kind of character that grows on you, the longer you are around him the more you begin to love him. He is a special kind of character – and I love it. I think my favorite part of his character, besides the obvious, is the fact that Alina has to go through an entire emotional revolution before figuring out just how much she loves him. There is no insta love. This is a slow burning love born over years, and years, and years. It was beautiful.
“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”
Leigh Bardugo is a goddess composed of pure literary genius. The plot of this book, while holding general Young Adult undertones, is so superbly executed and full of layers upon layers of amazingness that it will blow your brain straight through your skull. The book is unique, the writing is unique, the world is so unique it might a well be a completely new standard of world building. I guess that is the point I am trying to make here, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone has just raised the bar for each and every fantasy book that follows without so much as blinking an eye. It was all so flawless and seemingly effortless, despite the fact that I know and understand just how much work goes into something as complex as this. Leigh Bardugo, thank you. Simply thank you.
Overall, Shadow and Bone is one hell of a book that deserves to be placed on every shelf in existence. This is a must read for fantasy lovers and book lovers alike. It is chalked full of action, romance, personal struggles, and an intricately beautiful plot that will haunt you for years to come. Bardugo has created a masterpiece which I have fallen helplessly in love with and I hope you will too.
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9 thoughts on “The Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! Leigh Bardugo really is an excellent world builder. I quite often find myself losing track of what’s what in fantasy books because everything is so foreign to me, but I didn’t really struggle with that with her writing.

    I was never into the Darkling. I think there is something wrong with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love it all so much! I’m already halfway done with Siege and Storm and I can’t wait to finish it. She does such a good job of laying things out in such a way that makes them undeniably believable, which in turn makes it easier to read and fall into.

      There’s nothing wrong with you! Haha, everyone feels a little differently about everything. That’s what makes the blogging world so much fun : ) The Darkling, I don’t really know how I feel about him – I still love him, but he’s seriously a black sheep sort of character.

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      • YAAASSSSS!!! I just got to the part where they’re returning to Os Alta with him. I love Nikolai… I love all of them, really. It’s kinda sad just how much Alina is not feeling the whole Santka Alina thing – but I understand it. I wouldn’t want that pressure, either. I really liked that scene when she nailed Nikolai in the face though, that was hilarious XD

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      • Yes! Basically all scenes with Nikolai are the best. I’m glad you like him to. He is some much needed comic relief at this point!

        I would hate to be a saint, so I totally get where she’s coming from.It’s hard to deal with other people’s beliefs about you in normal life. Being a saint would be an insane level of that. I think it would be very difficult to know who you actually are when you’re dealing with all those expectations.

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