US Title: Shadow & Bone
Paperback, 442 pages
Expected Publication: 7th June 2012 by Indigo
Description via Goodreads:
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?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
My thanks go to Indigo for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Terms such as 'The Shadow Fold', 'Ravka' and the 'Grisha' intimidate me. I don't really know why, but they made me think that this book was going to be some sort of epic fantasy or something really complicated. However, I've been surprising myself this year by picking up things I wouldn't normally read. I knew I had to read this book after reading so many positive things about it - and oh my, I am so glad that I did!
I opened the book and saw a list of the Grisha - Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki - without much explanation as to who they were. You guessed it - I was confused already. I'm one of those people who has to have a reason for everything and has to know why things are how they are. Anyway, making notes of these terms, I started reading and I was no longer confused. This book is not confusing in the least when you get into it. If you're a little bit scared about being thrown into a book that has some foreign words in it, don't be. There are some non-english words in this book, but it is so easy to know what's being talked about - it just adds to the authenticity of the story. Bardugo's writing is fantastic. Within a couple of chapters, she managed to have me completely absorbed into this other world - in Ravka and its inhabitants.
I loved meeting Alina, our main character, and the boy she grew up with, Mal. I thought their relationship together was really well shown - it's clear that they have a very strong bond together and have gone through bad times and good. They worked very well together as a team and I can't wait to see what happens with them next. There were quite a few interesting characters that were already well formed by the end of this first book and I am looking forward to seeing what happens to them, too! I absolutely loved Genya, a girl that Alina befriends at Os Alta, where the leaders of Ravka reside. I thought that the pair had a friendship that felt genuine - Genya was just the type of girl I'd have liked to have met if I'd been in Alina's shoes. I thought that the minor characters, or the characters we didn't see/hear much of were just as important as the main characters in this book, feeling strong and each having their own purpose.
The action in this book is mainly centred around The Shadow Fold, a very dangerous place for all of the people in Ravka, especially those who try to cross it. The Darkling, one of the most important people in Ravka, has his own ideas about The Shadow Fold and it's interesting to see what he's really like when we find out more about him during the book. There was just the right amount of action in this book for me - there wasn't constant physical battles, but there was always something happening, most constantly the internal battles of Alina. I thought that learning about the Grisha and their supernatural talents was super interesting and one of the highlights of the book for me.
This book may sound dark, and I guess it is, but there is also a lot of humour - I was really surprised with how much humour was in this book, actually. The snarky remarks of some of the characters really made me laugh and made me take a shine with them. This was a really well-developed, captivating story with good world-building. I am hoping that this is a series that will have consistent quality as I can easily see it becoming one of my favourites. Fans of Young Adult literature will eat this up. I can't wait to read the next book!