Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance

Series: Grisha Trilogy, #1

Published: 2012, Square Fish

My copy: Paperback, 372 pages

My rating: 4/5 stars

Summary: Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.

Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two. [Goodreads]


This was one of those books where the beginning is so super slow, but then you get to the middle and things starts to pick up so you’re hooked, and I was pretty happy with it overall. I liked Alina, the Darkling, the setting and ideas, but I didn’t like Mal or the pacing too much.

The book starts out pretty slow in my opinion, with Alina recapping her horrible childhood and her crush on her best friend, Mal, who flirts with ALL the ladies. I’m still not Mal’s biggest fan, but all throughout the book I was conflicted because the Darkling and Mal each have their bad aspects. So, I am not sold on the love triangle’s authenticity. However, once I got to the part about Alina travelling to be trained for her powers, the story became very fast-paced and interesting. That’s probably the only things I found wrong with the book.

“Fine,” he said with a weary shrug. “Make me your villain.”

page 325

I really like Alina as the narrator. She is super scrawny and kind of weak, but she becomes super powerful and kicks some serious butt as the story goes along. She doesn’t let a lot bother her and stands up for herself with some serious attitude and sarcasm (which I appreciate as a sarcastic person). I didn’t like reading about her gushing over Mal (I JUST DIDN’T LIKE HIM) and I thought I was Team Darkling and then Leigh Bardugo just throws like six plot twists at me and I’m confused. Like, really confused. The Grisha world is so complex, but the detail of all the aspects of it made the story really fun to read once we got the action-y parts. I wasn’t totally in love with this book, but I’m definitely going to continue with the series (I NEED to know what happens, so expect news on the next two in the trilogy).

Not my favorite read of March, but not the worst.

3 thoughts on “REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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