REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone:
Our story begins when we meet our young protagonists Alina and Mal. They are orphans and we see them at the age of eight. This age is important, because this is when all children get tested for their grisha abilities. These abilities are anything from slowing a heart down to making the elements bend to their will. They are tested but it seems like neither of them have the grisha abilities.
Fast forward a couple of years, they are in the first army fighting against the fold and enemies who want to control their border. The fold is basically a giant black and dark strip crossing the country which has terrible monsters in it. The two of them have to cross the fold due to their positions in the first army, Alina’s a map maker and, Mal’s a hunter who never misses his prey. Alina feels like she has grown distant from Mal who is way more popular than her but she still feels the love for him that has grown ever since she was a child. When they are in the fold with the rest of the team, they are attacked by the monsters, the Volcra. Mal is nearly killed by one of them and Alina saves him by producing a shining light of which the volcra are scared off. They survive but only due to Alina’s light. When they return Alina is questioned by the darkling, the leader of the second army of grisha. It is revealed that Alina is indeed Grisha and the darkling wants to protect her at all costs as she is a commodity that other nations might use against the nation of Ravka.
Along the way back to the capital, she is attacked by assassins from another country exactly like the darkling would say would happen. Luckily though, the darkling saves her in the nick of time and cuts a body in half with his powers. Like what the hell? This is when she learns that she is the sun summoner, one of the most powerful grisha in history and therefore she must save Ravka from the fold. When she arrives at the Little Palace, she meets Genya, a girl with the ability to tailor looks and make them beautiful. She realises that Genya is there to make her beautiful which kind of creeps her out a bit because she has a meeting with the King of Ravka and must be prepared in every way. She is greeted with spectacular delight when she performs her grisha abilities to the king and everybody is pleased.
Whilst at the Little Palace, she trains to fight and control her ability. She meets this old lady who is peculiar and she is to be her teacher. They do not get on at first, but Alina finds a way to get used to the character that is Baghra and her unusual methods. She is getting better at using her abilities meanwhile the darkling is telling her that she is their only hope of defeating the fold and that he is looking for a very strong amplifier for her made out of a mythical stag. Alina and the Darkling find themselves in passionate embraces but considering he is 120 years old, that is a bit weird, even though he is hot.
It turns out that hearing of Mal from Alina, and knowing how good of a hunter he is, the darkling sent Mal looking for the stag and he has found it. Knowing of the Darkling’s plan, Baghra reveals all to Alina, that she is the Darkling’s mother and that he is the black heretic, the one who created the fold. He doesn’t intend to use Alina to destroy the fold but to expand it and defeat other countries in their war against Ravka. Mal and Alina run away but are found by the Darkling’s army. They kiss when they realise that they have true feelings for one another but are separated on the darkling’s orders. The Darkling kills the stag and thanks Mal for finding it for him and Alina. The darkling uses the stag amplifier to bind his grisha abilities with those of Alina’s which makes him even more powerful.
The darkling takes them into the fold and performs to the people of Ravka that Alina will destroy the fold but it is a ploy on his part as he plans to kill everyone who stands in his way. Alina is used by the darkling to keep the Volcra away but when Mal is thrown overboard, she knows she has to do something to save him. This is when she realises, by not killing the stag, she has more power over the amplifier than the darkling and breaks the bond that keeps them together. She jumps over board and saves Mal and herself from the volcra by using her light, leaving the ship to the volcra in the darkness. They end up escaping and on a ship that takes them across the true sea. This is when Alina believes that the Darkling survived and that she plans to destroy him, one way or another.
This book for me was a reread due to the fact of the TV series being released. I basically wanted the story fresh in my mind so that I could enjoy the show. And I would say rereading this was the best idea I had in a while, but not only did I reread the book, I also read it a different way. So the first time I read the book, I read the physical book but this time I listened to the audiobook. And I have got to say, the audiobook was great. I enjoyed this book even more than the first time round. I have to say that, Leigh Bardugo’s writing is simply flawless and having read her other books as well, I can say it has truly grown into something spectacular and I cannot fault her on her style of writing. One down thing that I had with this book, was that I now remember how whiney Mal is in the books and I’m glad that the tv show changed that and improved his character. The Darkling is as always the highlight of these books even though he is the villain. But who doesn’t like a good villain afterall?
4 out of 5 stars.