Review: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo
  • Series: Grisha Trilogy #1
  • Published: June 5, 2012
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • Reading Level: Ages 12 and Up
  • Pages: 368 pages
  • Source: Gifted

 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.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Words cannot describe how I feel about this book. I chose it as a past WoW on a hunch and, boy, am I happy I made the assumption that this would be a book worth reading. It is. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend hunting a copy down because I have not read a story like it. This is a book full of magic and it had me under its spell at the very first line.

Alina grew up with her best friend, Mal, in an orphanage during a time where The Fold was slowly devouring everything around Ravka in its evil darkness. While at the orphanage, both kids failed the test to see if they were born with special powers that would make them Grisha. In a desperate attempt to earn money, they both joined the military; Mal as a tracker and Alina as a cartographer. While traveling through The Fold, Alina saves Mal's life by releasing a power within her that she hadn't known existed. She was a Sun Summoner, one of the most powerful Grisha's out there. Because of this, she found herself caught in the middle of a major power struggle in a world ruled by magic and evil secrets.

Honestly, I have no clue where to begin. I was drawn into this world from the very beginning of the novel. It's a world of magic, a magic that has not been written about in any other novel. And on top of that magic, the entire book has an evil undertone that forces you to read so you can find out what that evil undertone really is. It's fast paced and impossible to put down. It will leave you wanting more.

The world-building was done so well that I had no problem visualizing anything. I loved the Grisha magic and its development, like the use of amplifiers and the differences between the different types of Grisha. While I imagine this to be somewhat Russian, the lands seemed so different and so unique. They were war-ravaged for hundreds of years. People were desperate to be saved, but how could such a thing happen with a King that didn't know how to rule? All of these elements worked together to create Ravka, a world that is unlike any other you will ever come across. And while it so easily captivates you, it is not a world you would want to live in. At least, not unless you had Mal on your arm.

The characters were beyond amazing. I can't even describe how much I respect Bardugo for being able to write such a unique novel. Alina is a brave heroine. She's conflicted throughout a majority of the book, but she's still the perfect vessel to translate emotions through and see the other characters through her eyes. She hurts for all the right reasons, and was so perfectly written. The dynamic between her and Mal is fascinating. She's loved him ever since she was a child in the orphanage. Together, they are unstoppable. Apart, they hurt for one another. But Mal is a bit of a player and only views Alina as his best friend. She might as well be one of the guys in his eyes. Which gave The Darkling the perfect opportunity to step in and become this romantic love interest. He has an eery beauty that can translate into creepiness, but all Grisha vie for his attention, especially that of the romantic kind. When Alina becomes a favorite of his, no character makes her survival easy. But her and The Darkling possess insane powers. As easily as they can help to make each other more powerful, they can negate each others powers as well. After all, one is darkness and one is light.

The evil within the novel is a complete shock. It was lurking beneath everything, so clearly there, but you get so wrapped up in the lies that Bardugo weaves that you're just as shocked as Alina to learn for the truth. And once she does, you're just as determined to right all the wrong's committed. Her journey is one of self-discovery and then epic survival and you will not be able to put the book down until you turn the very last page. Even then, you will literally ache to read more. It is a battle between good and evil, and Alina is nothing but the most powerful pawn that could be used on either side. The mystery in this novel was done expertly.

There is some violence within the book, but it's not super gory. Still, I wouldn't recommend it for a twelve year old. Thirteen and up would seem like a more accurate reading level. It's nothing that will unsettle anyone that doesn't have a good stomach. I can't stomach anything gory and I was so captivated by the story that I wasn't even the least bit fazed. You'll find yourself reading so fast that half of the story won't even register in your mind until it's all over. Then you'll sit there for a few seconds with your mind completely blown, the only word your capable of saying: "whoa."

Bardugo is a master of the written word. She transports you into Ravka and you live through everything alongside Alina. Your breath will quicken, your tear buds will dampen, and your anger will make itself known as you read. Anything that can evoke such powerful emotions is a story that is worth telling. Thus, this novel is receiving 5 stars! I couldn't put it down and when I was finished, I was left begging for more of this book. Its unique setting and plot is like an addictive drug that you can't get enough of. Its Russian undertones were a cute addition that I found interesting as well. I highly encourage readers to pick this book up if they ever have the time. You will not regret it.

A must read for any young adult reader. Seriously, I mean it. 


I LOVE this cover! It sort of reminds me of a kids book, the simplicity of it all, but at the same time it manages to ooze darkness, just as the book does. For such a simple design it is incredibly appealing to the eye and I do like it very much. Simplicity seems to be a lost art among some book cover creators, but you can never go wrong with just being simple.

5 stars



  1. Wonderful review, Lili! I totally agree this book is amazing! It's an emotional ride for sure and I loved Alina as a main character. The only thing I couldn't figure out was what a kefta is supposed to look like. Any clue? It didn't bother me though. I agree, the cover is amazing! It's so different from other YA covers right now. It's suddenly refreshing not having a girl or boy photographed on the cover. I'm so glad you liked it :)

    1. This may sound weird, but I imagined it to almost be like an oversized fabric poncho with sleeves and a hood and symbols along the cuffs. It's really just like a huge dress that goes over your shoulders and the sleeves open up like bell-bottom jeans. That's how I see them, at least!

    2. Yeah, that makes sense. I think I've seen some pictures from blog reviewers and that's how it's pictures. Kind of like kimonos... Not what I imagined. I think I was just picturing the Russian theme too hard and I was thinking they were wearing those Russian furry coats, lol :) Totally not right.

  2. YES!!! AHH I loved this book so much too - and it's the kind of love that just seems to GROW :) The one thing I really loved about your review, is how you pointed out how the evil permeated everything but really lurked beneath this lovely facade. It's' so true, I just never though ofputting it that way before.

    Wonderful review!

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

    1. Thank you so much for checking out my review!

  3. I have been hesitant on reading this one since the summary didn't capture my interest that much. Now that I read your review I might have to give it a try though!

    1. I think it's totally worth giving it a try! I'd love to see what you think of it, Amy!

  4. The cover is one of my favorite covers this year. And I really enjoyed the book. BUT it wasn't one of my favorites this year and I hate that. So many reviewers that I trust absolutely adored this book. I am not sure why in the world it didn't hit me like that. I think I might check it out again before the next book is out. Maybe something will click. Thanks for the review!

  5. I keep putting off reading this because somehow the blrb doesn't intrigue me but absolutely everyone seems to love this book. Maybe I should give this a try.
    Thanks for the great review.

  6. I just read this like a week ago (I'm always late reading EVERYTHING) and LOVED IT! I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did! :) Great review!