Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Synopsis: 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.

So Six of Crows has been much talked about online and, as usual I did some quick research and found out that this was the first book set in the same world.  I really don’t understand why people in this situation would go for Six of Crows over Shadow and Bone.

I’m a fan of Russia.  Not sure whether its the accent, the cold, the vodka, the spetsnaz, or just the country as a weird whole.  It’s interesting bordering on the fascinating, sometimes in a scary way, sometimes in a sort of international-rubbernecking way.  I was rather excited when I realised the setting for this book was Russia or somewhere like it.

Unfortunately we didn’t really explore much before the female protagonist was swept off to a castle by a magical prince.  A little uncomfortably, to be sure, with a certain amount of looming danger, but still.

I’m not sure this is a bad book, for all that it’s a dressed-down Mary Sue in a decidedly American story set in Russia, with elements of Twilight. There are some fixing up of some of Meyer’s minor errors and an author clearly on Team Jacob, but it’s still clearly someone who has read Twilight and liked it.  Sunshine by Robin Mckinley is also either a major influence, or some sort of coincidental work.  Written years earlier.  By a popular best-selling author.


The plot of the book stutters a little.  They’re less like revelations and more like desperate ploys to get the book off a smooth predictable track.  Not entirely successfully, I might add.  I was glad it finished, though not entirely satisfied by the ending.  The book as a whole was fairly bland but, I think, appropriately pessimistic.

No, don’t bother, find something interesting to read.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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