With the upcoming release of the Netflix series, even people who don’t have an interest in fantasy books have heard the name Shadow and Bone recently. The clips showing on social media are enough to get anyone interested, and they finally gave me the poke to get the book off of my shelf and into my hands.
I’d heard a lot about the books, but just like with any of these big universes, the information is quite vague and guarded, making sure that there are no spoilers spilled out. So although I went into it knowing the name Darkling, it was still a brand new world.
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.
I really enjoyed this book. It was fast paced, and never once slowed down, keeping up a rapid stream of action and emotion as it progresses. Alina, our narrator, struggles in finiding her place in the world, and finding who she is – really finding it – is the largest part of the storyline.
I loved her relationship with Mal, the fact they were so close and remained so despite everything, but I also loved her interactions with everyone else. As someone maybe not naturally able to fit in or – as above – be aware of her place in the world, she struggles with social interactions, and so the ones we get to see, with both the Darkling, and those who are supposed to be her equals as other Grishas, but despite every interaction, she still feels out of place.
Alina really grows throughout the book, and although I didn’t understand the constant need to insult her physically; I do hate that as an idea of how to make a character grow. Constantly calling her scrawny etc seemed a bit much when not in relation to the combat training, ie, muscle growth.
The descriptive work is absolutely beautiful, right down to the detailing of embroidary, and I really hope they manage to stay true to things like that in the upcoming TV show, it really could be one of the most beautiful adaptions we’ve seen.
I’m planning on continuing with the series slowly, making time for other books as I go along.