Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo : Book Review

In light of the upcoming Shadow and Bone Netflix show, I started reading the Shadow and Bone book series which I had left unfinished after the first book last year. So technically, this is a re-read but with me not remembering anything from before. It was certainly…interesting to dive into the Grishaverse again. Let’s take a look at my thoughts, shall we?

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

Release Date: June 5th, 2012

Age Rating: 12 and above

Content Warnings: Violence, blood, death, gore, emotional abuse

(from Goodreads)

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. 

”If I told you that I’m trying to save the world, would you believe me?

I first read this book somewhere in 2020 (I don’t really remember when, that whole year is a blur to me), and I remember thinking that there was nothing special about this book. I just wasn’t interested. And because of that I never finished the series.

But now, because of the upcoming release of the Shadow and Bone Netflix show, I desperately wanted to finish this series. No matter how much torture it put me through.

I think you can imagine my surprise when I actually ended up not hating it.

I find Alina very annoying. All she thinks about is Mal. Like okay girl he’s the best friend you have feelings for and you really miss him. But do you have to remind me every chapter?? I understood it the first time well enough.

Genya is probably one of my favourite characters so far. We can tell that there’s a hidden side to her that she’s not ready to disclose yet and it makes her very intriguing. I can’t wait to learn more about her in the following books. Also, is it just me or do I already ship her with David even though we hardly get five pages of him??

“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”

The Darkling. The man almost everyone is crazy about. Honestly, I don’t see it. Just like I don’t see why everyone likes Maven Calore from Red Queen so much (sorry I went off track). I don’t ship Alina with anyone. She’s better off without a significant other. Unless the next two books can convince me otherwise.

He’s definitely a very interesting character. I do believe that there’s an opportunity for his character to be developed a lot more, and I’m waiting to see if he actually takes it or not. He’s determined, I’ll give you that. After that ending, I really want to know how his character will make an appearance in the next book.

We don’t get a lot of Mal in this book. Again, I don’t what to think of him because I haven’t seen enough of his personality for me to decide. Other than the fact that he’s very over protective of Alina and still has a softer side to him, I’ve got nothing. Is he good? Is he bad? I don’t know yet. What I do know is that most of the readers here hate him. So….I’m curious.

”Your power serves you because that is its purpose, because it cannot help but serve you.”

Baghra is my favourite character so far. She’s fierce, unyielding and overall such a strong woman. I loved her dynamic and it was fun to see her taunt and mentor Alina at the same time.

The Apparat is confusing. That’s all is have to say about him.

The worldbuilding was better than I remembered it being and played a big part in my liking of this book. I do wish we could have seen more of Ravka and learnt more about its people.

The plot is very unique and completely kept me rooted. I’m excited to see how this plays out in the next books.

Have you guys read Shadow and Bone yet? What did you all think? Do you have different thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

28 comments

  1. love this review! i’ve been reading these in anticipation of the series coming coming out and was so disappointed honestly. i read Soc first and was mostly comparing them which was most certainly my downfall. i at least understand the world building a bit more.

    i really like Genya as a character and agree that Alina is a bit annoying right now. like girl, kindly have a personality beyond liking mal. you don’t need a man, go be powerful by yourself. and the darkling hype?? i agree, it’s def on par with the maven hype and i’m on board with neither soo

    anyway. i love this review! happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Oh I’m sorry to hear that! yeah I find SoC much better compared to thid series. Leigh Bardugo’s writing definitely improved in SoC.

      That’s awesome! Yeah she is. I’m hoping she gets better in the next book. Exactly my thoughts hahaa.

      Thanks again, and happy reading to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also recently read Shadow and Bone and I really enjoyed it too! I personally like Alina and Mal, but I totally agree with you on the Darkling – I very much do *not* get the hype. I’m currently reading Siege and Storm and I’m enjoying it so I’m curious to see what you’ll end up thinking of it.
    Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The shadow and Bone series definitely gets a lot better!!! I read all three books this month and I had much the same feelings as you about the first book. But book two took me completely by surprise. It gets a lot darker and a certain new character is introduced that makes the story 110% more interesting…keep reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m happy to hear you didn’t hate this one Rania!! I too read this series in the blur that was 2020 and it was an enjoyable read for me. Ooh it’s interesting that you think Alina should have remained single… everyone in this fandom seems to have a very strong opinion about the romance in this series, so I’m interested to see what you end up thinking of it in the next two books. I personally am one of those people who doesn’t understand the Mal slander in this fandom — yeah, sure, the Darkling is interesting, but Alina OBVIOUSLY belongs with Mal 🙄😂

    Great review Rania!! 💜

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Abby! Ahahahaha yeah maybe my opinions will change once I read the other books. You never know 🤷‍♀️ I’m curious too! Ahh that’s really interesting because majority seem to be shipping Alina with the Darkling so I’m really excited to see!

      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review Rania! Ahh yes I’m so hyped for the Netflix show except that I haven’t read the trilogy, possibly because I’m scared of my crazy high expectations after Six of Crows!! But am so glad to hear that you didn’t end up hating the book… 🙂

    thank you for sharing your thoughts on the characters, hmm so many reviews including yours have given feedback on how annoying Alina is ahh, and I do hope that the darkling will be developed more later on as truly, that much hype for a so-so character would truly be wasted.. lovely post!! 💖

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cherelle, believe me when I say to lower your expectations 😂 I’m not saying this series is bad (it’s not), but Leigh Bardugo’s writing has visibly improved from the time she wrote Shadow & Bone and you’re in for a huge letdown if you compare it to SoC. A tip from a fellow bookworm 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Abby!! I truly appreciate the tip… ahh that makes a lot of sense and is so heartening to hear that Leigh Barudgo’s journey in her writing style has truly gone far… I’ll definitely be expecting less now, and am curious to find out about the Darkling hype in particular, and be careful not to compare it too much to Kaz’s hype haha!!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Cherelle! Ahhh I am too! I can’t wait! It’s not too late yet! The only thing driving me through this series is the show 😂 but I’m liking it so far!

      Of course! I love sharing my thoughts on books I’ve recently read! Yeah I’m having a lot of conflicting thoughts at the moment so I’m hoping they get clearer once I progress with the series 🙂 Thank you so much! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

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