By Leigh Bardugo
Hardcover, 358 pages
Henry Holt, June 2012
Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, the one thing she could rely on was her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they’re sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.
When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. Ripped from everything she knows, she is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the one person with the power to destroy the Fold.
Swept up in a world of luxury and illusion, envied as the Darkling’s favorite, Alina struggles to fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But as the threat to the kingdom mounts, Alina uncovers a secret that sets her on a collision course with the most powerful forces in the kingdom. Now only her past can save her . . . and only she can save the future.
Book 10 in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge, hosted by the Story Siren.
5 Glorious Stars on Goodreads
I'm breathless and without words. It's been so long since I've read high fantasy, I'd forgotten how MUCH I miss and love it!
From the first pages of the map, I was pulled into Ravka: A land marked by a dark stain filled with images of gnashing teeth surrounded by intricate designs. Her Russian inspired fantasy world was new and different from anything I'd ever read before.
The storytelling begins with a tale of an orphaned boy and girl who find refuge at the Duke's estate and then leads into Alina's perspective: from a nobody girl to a girl of power.
After reading so many debut books this year, I had almost given up on the possibility of one that would really shine...and I've finally found it in Shadow and Bone. Bardugo has crafted a tale with thought and care. The worldbuilding was done to perfection: the Russian inspired language and landscape transport you to this fantasy world. The details of clothing and scenery so carefully crafted that they seem almost close enough to touch.
Each of the characters are unique and filled with mystery. Alina: Funny and a bit stubborn and insecure. I loved her story and her struggle to understand her place as she gains social status and power. Mal: the cocky childhood friend whose loyalty never falters. The Darkling: the most powerful Grisha (magical elite) whose charisma may or may not be as it seems.
The plot twists and turns with a few dead ends you weren't sure how it could possibly turn out. My hands were glued to this book from the very beginning. Some of the distinctions of class were a little confusing at first, but by the end I understood it all. I CANNOT WAIT for the next installment. This is one story you don't want to miss!
Also, check out this podcast interview with Leigh Bardugo over at Authors are Rockstars!
So what are you waiting for?! This is a definite, absolutely, must-read-it-next book!