Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Release date: 6 June 2013 (New UK edition)
Source: Received for review
Reason for reading: Everyone has raved about it
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.
I watched the reviews of this book roll in when it was released as The Gathering Dark and thought it sounded really good, but I wasn't a huge fan of fantasy. Then once I got back into fantasy, I really wanted to read it but I figured I should wait until the re-release with the US cover/name. From that moment on I have been impatiently waiting, fighting the temptation to just buy it, so when Nina offered it to me for review slightly early, I couldn't help myself.
Shadow and Bone was everything I hoped it would be. The world Leigh Bardugo has crafted is rich and interesting and detailed. I loved how it was clearly influenced by Russian culture; the names and words and the outfits and food, everything was inspired in a really interesting way. I love Russian culture so that element of the book was really appealing to me. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the world, the Grisha ranks and the different types of powers, I was just so fascinated by it all.
Alina was a really interesting character. She grew a lot in this book but still retained her personality. She maintained a healthy scepticism throughout part of this novel, but she accepted her position once it was clear she was Grisha. She struggled at first, but once she mastered her power she really grew in confidence. She clearly was a little insecure in herself, never being special or standing out and being, and feeling, overshadowed by those around her. But she was smart-mouthed in a way I found very entertaining and whilst not the strongest, most resourceful main character, she used her intuition and made the right judgements when necessary.
I can't talk about this book without mentioning the Darkling. I might be in love with the Darkling. Mysterious, funny, bit moody, possibly evil, he's ideal really. Thee scariest thing about the Darkling was that I totally got what he was doing, even if he did go about it in a rather controversial manner. He reminded me a little of Lenin leading the Bolsheviks against the Russian aristocracy (only, you know, more attractive).
I always love books with journeys and this one has a literal journey that is mirrored by Alina's emotional and mental journey. She grew and discovered so much, both about herself and the world that she lived in. I was tearing through the pages, on tenterhooks through the latter part of the pages and my only criticism is that I wish there had been more: more detail, more story (more Darkling).
TL;DR: Leigh Bardugo has created a richly imaginative world that I cannot get enough of. I cannot wait for the sequel and am literally counting down the days until its release.
Shadow and Bone previously released as The Gathering Dark in the UK will be re-released with this new cover, alongside its sequel Siege and Storm, on the 6th June. Thank you to Nina at Indigo for my copy, which was received for an honest review.