Title: Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo (2012)
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.
This was actually a reread for me, but I see thanks to my new handy AZ Reviews tab, I have not actually reviewed it before. Whoops.
When I bought this as the original UK title "The Gathering Dark", I had no idea that I was actually reading the much-lauded Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo until I had put the book down and actually Googled it.
The awesome part in this was that I had zero expectations, And I mean absolutely NONE. I assumed I was reading some random, obscure novel that ended up on a clearance shelf due to poor sales.
Well, that is probably one of the best approaches one could take to reading a book. Expect nothing and you will get everything!
Alina, our heroine, is feisty and knows how to stand on her own two feet. She is no simpering Mary Sue and I loved that she grows in the book and knows her own weaknesses,
There is romance, but it is handles a little differently in a sense. I won't say much else, other than it was not the driving force in the plot and the story is strong without it.
What I really loved was how cleverly Leigh Bardugo created her world from existing cultures. The familiarity of the Russian influence is almost comforting. But, her own elements were unique and I felt like I was reading something entirely new and fresh at the same time. The result is this curious blend of history and fantasy that is memorable and engrossing.
My only real criticism is that I felt a lot more could have been done. Secondary characters could have been expanded upon and Alina's rivarly with one of her fellow students could have been dealt with in more detail. Sometimes, I felt that the potential of certain scenes and characters were not fully tapped into.
All in all, this is a keeper and I am already busy with the second in the trilogy, Seige and Storm.
Reccomended for fans of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy.