REVEW: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My rating: 

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.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

Have you ever been in a situation wherein you were sure you were going to hate something, but ended up being absolutely crazy over it?

I told myself I should start reading YA fantasy novels.

I was so excited, at first, to give it a try, because I've never read a fantasy book that's YA. I've read the Lord of the Rings, book 1 of The Game of Thrones, then a little bit of the Wheel of Time, but no YA.

I decided to try Throne of Glass. I got tempted to read it because of the hype should have learned my lesson from the Darkest Minds though, unfortunately it was not as good as I thought it would be. I hated it. So.. when someone recommended this series to me... I was a bit... "Uhhh.. Oh no. Another hyped up book. A fantasy one too."

It has been on my iBooks for a while, but haven't gotten to reading it, because this book... didn't not really seem like something I would enjoy. I have a couple of reasons why I was so hesitant in opening up this book.

Here are my reasons: shallow or not, they are my reasons

1. The cover. It sucks. I'm a sucker for pretty covers and this cover just did not appeal to me.

2. I'm not into weird names. And this book has lot of weird names like the Etherialki, Corporalki, Grisha and a bunch of other hard to pronounce names. I was 100% sure, it was going to give me a migraine.

3. The HYPE. I used to think that over-hyped were hyped up for a reason. I still believe that's true, but most of the time... I just don't get why. I often ask, "What This book was one of them. I'm scared of getting burned a third time... in a row. I think you guys understand where I'm coming from, yeah?

4. I'm new to the YA fantasy genre. I tried one, but didn't work well with me. I was kind of thinking maybe YA fantasy was never going to be my thing.

I was ready to give up on the entire YA fantasy thingy, but decided to give it one last shot... so after a friend recommended this book to me for the nth time... I picked it up... opened the book... and BOOM!

I was in love! 

I was hooked.
I couldn't get enough of it.
So good.
So fucking good.

So good like an immensely appetizing cake that tastes familiar, but different at the same time.

Shadow and Bone has become an easy favorite. I was immediately drawn into the world of the Grishas. I'm bad at explaining stuff like this. I tend to lack enough adjectives to describe stuff that I really like. And with this book, like always, I could not find the adjectives... to say... how much i love this. I'm just absolutely in love with the concept of the Grishas, the exact world they are in, the characters, and the flow of the story.

Okay. Enough of that... let me tell you a bit of the story.

Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev were orphaned at a young age. They grew up together at an orphanage in Keramzin. They were very close to each other, and although they didn't have much, they knew they had each other.

The Shadow Fold has divided the land of Ravka into two. As part of their military services, Alina, Mal, and the others needed to cross the Shadow Fold (also called the Unsea) to get to Os Alta. The Fold was part of Ravka that people fear, not only because the area was filled with darkness, but also because of the deadly, vile creatures that inhabit the darkness.

Darkness fell around us, black, weightless, and absolute. We were in the fold. It was like standing at the edge of everything.

Their goal was to cross the Fold without attacting the volcras (the creatures hovering over the Fold). They have to be silent... very silent. No sounds should be heard when they cross... or else... All hell would break loose... And that was exactly what happened.

The air was thick with the smell of blood and gunpoder. All around us, I heard the rifle fire, people weeping... and the obscene sound of something feeding.The flames of the Grisha were growing weaker, more sporadic, and worst of all, I realized the skiff had stopped moving. This is is, I thought hopelessly.

Chaos was everywhere. There were soldiers fighting. there weer Grisha's fighting. There were ordinary people fighting. They were all fighting to protect their lives. Death and blood were all around Alina. Alexie, a fellow apprentice, was carried off and devoured by the volcra. Alina saw all of that. She heard him pleading for his life, fighting for it... until he was no more. Another volcra was about to attack her, she readied herself. But Mal, came to her rescue.

I saw a flash of gun powder from the corner of my eye, heard a rifle shot, and the volcra stumbled, yowling in rage and pain.

"Move!" It was Mal, rifle in hand, face streaked with blood. He grabbed my arm and pulled me behind him.

The attacks were not stopping. More people were dying. The volcras were still coming. They were going to annihilate all of them. Mal was trying to load up his gun, but a volcra came out of nowhere and slashed his chest. Alina attacked back, trying to protect Mal from getting any more injuries, but the volcras were just too strong for Alina.

Just when they were about to give up... Something happened.

I closed my eyes as a sudden piercing flood of light exploded across my vision. It seemed to fill my head, blinding me, drowning me. From somewhere above, I heard a horrible shreik. I felt the volcra's claws loosen their grip, felt the thud as I fell foward and my head connected with the deck, and then I felt nothing at all.

Alina woke up without any memory of what happened after the attack that almost killed her while they were inside the Fold. The last she remembered was the light. She looked around for Mal, but he couldn't be seen anywhere. When the guards realized she was awake, they took her to a Grisha tent, where she finally met the Darkling.

He had a sharp, beautiful face, a shock of thick black hair, a clear grey eyes that glimmered like quartz. I knew that the most powerful Grisha were said to live long lives, and the Darklings were the most powerful of them all. But I felt the wrongness of it and I remembered Eva's words: He is not natural. None of them are.

Something happened that ended the volcra's attack. The Darkling knew that Alina had something to do with it. He was positive, but Alina was sure he was mistaken. The Darkling tested his theory, she proved, unintentionally, that he was right. Alina was a Grisha. Not just an ordinary one. She was a Sun Summoner.

Oh my goodness! Oh what fun! I can't wait to talk more about this.



It wasn't so hard to love Alina. I actually warmed up to her, right on the very first chapter. I wouldn't count the prologue though, they were pretty young then, so I'd have to say, I immediately liked her snarky self on chapter 1.

"Hey!" shouted the soldier. "Watch yourself!"

"Why don't you watch your fat feet?" I snapped, and took some satisfaction from the surprised that came over his broad face.

See. Such a tiny girl, with a sharp mouth. Oh it was love at first sight. She was my type of female characters. She wasn't described as immensely pretty and good at everything like Mary Sue Celaena, instead we see an ordinary girl who grew up as an orphan, but has a big future ahead of her.

She wasn't special (at least when you first meet her). There was never any hint of extraordinariness to her, but her character grew and blossomed, which I really liked. I like seeing characters growing, maturing, and developing. I find it really annoying to read about a character who could do no wrong, that's just totally unrealistic. I like them imperfect, but making the most of who they are despite their imperfections.

When Alina got taken to the Little Palace, she was in awe of everything, but she didn't enjoy them. She liked them, but was not drawn to it. She knew at the back of her mind, that she didn't want to be there. She wanted to be with Mal. But now that everyone, especially the Darkling, knows that she's the Sun Summoner, they needed to protect her and for her to learn to protect herself. It was hard for her at first, but I loved seeing her struggle, her willingness to learn the stuff that she needed to learn. I was rooting for her the entire time.

Alina was an easy character to love, to relate to. Her voice was sarcastic, but funny. She was full of vigor, although, she does have her dull moments too. Overall, she's a wonderful character. I wanted to actually make a chart, comparing Alina and Celaena. Haha. It sounds mean, but I just couldn't help but compare the two. Fortunately, I'm too lazy. If I was feeling like my self, I would have really made that chart... Just for the fun of it. Haha.


(SAM CLAFLIN - he's my Mal)

I remembered feeling extremely giddy when I first met Mal, on chapter 1.

"No fainting in the middle of the road," said a voice close to my ear as a heavy arm landed across my shoulders and gave me a squeeze. I looked up to see Mal's familiar face, a smile in his bright blue eyes as he fell into a step beside me. "C'mon," he said. "One foot in front of the other. You know how its done."

Like with Alina. It was love at first sight with Mal.

Mal grew up with Alina, so naturally, they would have this bond. They were like siblings born from different parents. So Mal, always looked out for Alina, even if she thought otherwise.

"It's always just you and me, Alina.

Oh dear god! My heart fluttered with happiness, and I'm not even exagerrating. He made my heart skip a beat every time he talks. *fangirling insterted here*. I have to say though, at first, he sounded like a douche to Alina, but after a while, you will warm up to him.

He has girls following him around and he knows it. Mal was good looking, and Alina felt that he was too good for her and that he would never look at her the way he looked at other girls.

Mal never looked at me the way he'd looked at that girl or the way he looked at Ruby, and he never would. But the fact that we were still friends was more important than any of that.

Mal was protective of Alina. That time when they were attacked by the volcra, he found her. He didn't go around saving other girls, he was trying to save Alina. I guess that's sort of an explanation already on how he felt about her huh? But that's not the only thing... He did lots of stuff, and you'll read all about them and be swooned by this handsome swooner even more.

The Darkling:

I'm not even sure where to start with this dark, handsome devil. I will be honest, I have a thing for guys with the aura of darkness around them. The Darkling was definitely one of them. Reading about him, reminded me of Warner from the Shatter Me series. Of course, they are very different. Their world was different, Warner did possess some abilitues, but that aura... of confidence? I'm not even sure what to call it, but it's there. They have this pull. They have this dangerous aura about them, but instead of making people stay away, they get drawn to them. And I feel that Warner and the Darkling sort of shared that quality.

I'm not going to give our much spoilers about this guy. All I could really tell you guys, is that I love The Darkling. I could see why everyone likes him. He wasn't the best guy out there, but his character, is what people liked about him. It wasn't that he was nice, because honestly, I think he wasn't nice. He was so desirable. I can't help not wanting him (and I bet a lot of other people think this way too. He was like the forbidden fruit, you don't know that it taste like, but you do know, you have to avoid it at all cost.

AHA! LOVE TRIANGLE THAT"S NOT REALLY yet. no i'm not sure.

When I started this series, I was already expecting this love triangle. I usually don't like it, but I absolutely like it here. It wasn't so obvious that two people like her, but you will already know she had feelings for one right off the bat.

Alina has feelings for Mal. But you are not sure if Mal feels the same way. You'll know that he cares about her, but you could assume, that it was just because they grew up together. Like a sibling type of love... while Alina felt something more.

Alina and The Darkling's relationship though... was... I'm not going to spoil it. But I sort of liked where it went. I liked it a lot. The Darkling was not attacted to Alina per se because of her looks... He was attracted to her because... Not saying. LOL.


This is me... during the last few chapters of the book.

And when it was almost close to the end.


Dammit! So many fucking feels. I just couldn't explain how the entire book gripped me. The story, the world building, the characters, the plot development, was insanely good. It was the will-glue-you-to-the-book-til-you-finish-it type of book. I was so happy I picked this baby up. I would like to thank those people who recommended this book to me... I will be forever grateful, because this baby took away my fear of YA books that claim to have fantasy elements to it.


1. The characters had their own personality. There were no cliches like a badass female assassin who could do no wrong, a dashing prince who would sweep badass assassin off her feet, an evil villan who does really evil things (of course. wtf was I saying). In Shadow and Bone, we have a naive heroine who had no clue of what she was, a hero who protected the person he cares about the most and not just to get into her pants, dress or whatever, and a villan ,who hopefully, is not an evil villan because you'll fall in love with him. The secondary characters were pretty good too. Like Baghra and Genya. Love them.

2. The plot. It has direction. It wasn't the type of book that throws you stuff until you're so full of it you want to chuck the book out the window. No. This book was carefully plotted, revealing the stuff that needs to be revealed, at the exact moment. It was creatively done.

3. The POV. It was in first person. THANK GOD!

4. The romance. It wasn't forced. It felt really natural and real. It wasn't there for a reason. I feel that all of those have its purpose.

5. The pacing. It was perfect.

6. The world that Ms. Bardugo created was just so unique and beautiful. I read a review about it being Russian references were inconsistent and that the author did not do enough research about it... Who the fuck cares? For me, as long as your readers enjoy, it doesn't really matter. That's why this fucking book is fiction and not non-fiction. Get it? It got its influences from the Russian culture, but its NOT the Russian culture. So I don't care if its not right or she used some of the Russian terms wrong.. I don't care.. And I think a lot of the readers didn't to. So there.

I think this review has gone long enough... If I had more time, I probably would have wrote a lot more. That's how excited I was with this book.

If you have read it please comment below!! I do want to know your thoughts about it. If you haven't please read it and make sure to message me or something. I really want to fangirl about this book even more!

I'm going to leave you guys with one of my favorite line from The Darkling.

“Did you tell him what I showed you in the dark?”


  1. I loved Shadow and Bone too! It was so good and I really didn't expect to like it as much as I did. I really enjoyed Leigh Bardugo's writing style and story telling. And the Darkling! Oh my gosh! I'm going to read Siege and Storm...soon.

    As for Throne of Glass, I wasn't that impressed with it either but I continued with the series and the second book, Crown of Midnight, is soooo much better! And I loved Heir of Fire too. I would definitely recommend continuing for at least one more book.

    Brain On Pause

    1. Oh my goodness! Another Shadow and Bone fan!!! *fangirling* The Darkling was such an amazing character. I like how subtle everything was until towards the end. Hehe. Don't wanna spoil to much for those who haven't read it. I agree with the writing. It is very engaging. And on my part, I think I'm just really into first person narratives, which is also why I didn't enjoy Throne of Glass.

      But... I will try and see... if I will continue with TOG. I just don't have the... urge to do that yet.

  2. I haven't read this one yet but it's on my list! Great review, as always!

    1. Thanks Jazmen! :) Looking forward to your review of this,

  3. Whoaaaa I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this fact, I didn't really know much about it, but you've made it sound really darn enticing Sandee ;P

    1. Oh B! :) Read this please! I loved the characters. I loved the world. All those weird Russian terms grew on me. And the Darkling!!! Don't get me started with the Darkling. I might not be able to stop talking about him. :)

    2. *waggles eyebrows* So who are you rooting for, the Darkling or the Mal guy? XD

    3. Oooohh boy! What a tough question!! Hmmm.. I'm kind of in the middle. I love Mal, but I love the Darkling too... I like that he's intriguing and mysterious, but Mal was just amazing in his own way.

      Sooo.. You better start reading this.. so we could... discuss... Pleasseee... :)

    4. Mwhahahaha LOVE TRIANGLE XD *giggles* Okaayy I will soon ;)


I love hearing back from you guys! :)
Drop me a comment ^__^


Flickr Images

Powered by Blogger.



Search This Blog

Video of the day

Copyright © 2015 • Book Ramblings of A Whimsical Reader