Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Date Started: 1/23/19

Date Finished: 2/22/19

Publication Date: 6/5/12

Genre: YA Fantasy

POV: 1st Person POV

Rating: 3/5



I started Shadow and Bone with high expectations. There’s been so much hype around the Grishaverse novels as of late due to the recent publication of King of Scars, so I decided to finally leap into the series. I’ve actually had the full trilogy (THE ORIGINAL HARDCOVERS) on my shelf for a while, but I never got around to them until now. I actually tried to read Six of Crows before reading this, but I simply couldn’t get into it. More on that later.

Back to Shadow and Bone, the novel is narrated from the point of view of Alina Starkov, a young soldier and mapmaker who discovers that she has a rare power, which marks her as one of the elusive Grisha, who are people who can manipulate matter in a way that resembles magic. It’s very much a coming-of-age story, as Alina learns to fit in among the Grisha and control her long-dormant power over light. It’s set in a beautiful Russian-inspired setting, and Bardugo’s descriptions of the world and culture within it really help to bring it to life. The setting is definitely different than that of any other YA novel I’ve ever read, which is quite refreshing.

That being said, this book is not without problems. For me, it felt like it lasted forever… and not in a good way. As you can see from my start and finish dates, it took me nearly a month to get through it. Granted, I’m a busy college student, so I didn’t have as much time to read as I normally would, but still, even during my blocked out reading sessions, I found that it dragged on forever. Normally, the endings of books feel like they go by in a flash, but the last… 50 pages seemed to go on forever, and I actually just wanted it to end. The middle also felt like it went on forever with not a lot going on. We see Alina training and practicing and interacting with her peers, but aside from a few advancements and big moments, not much really went on for the middle part of the book, which was disappointing. The pacing was a major problem with this book and kept me from enjoying it as much as I’d hoped.

Shadow and Bone is the first of a trilogy, but luckily it doesn’t end with an awful cliffhanger. There are definitely loose ends and a continuing plotline, but you could theoretically read this as a standalone. I will go on to read the next book, but I’m just hoping that some of the pacing issues are resolved. ‘

In the end, I have to give Shadow and Bone 3/5 stars, due to pacing issues. I’ve heard that Bardugo’s writing improves as her books go along, so I’m hoping that the further I dive into the Grishaverse, the more I’ll like it.

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