Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 star
I have never read any of this author, despite all the hype I have seen over the years. But when Netflix announced that this series was getting a TV show, and everyone started to go crazy for the teaser trailer, my interest was piqued. So, I picked up the first book and I can see why this is a beloved series.
The world is very interesting. Hundreds of years ago, a part of the kingdom was covered in darkness and filled with these horrible monsters called volcra who would devour anyone who tried to cross to the other side. While some people made it across unscathed, most were hurt or killed trying to cross. This put the kingdom at a severe economic disadvantage since they couldn’t access their ports on the other side of this dark scar.
Within this kingdom are also people called Grisha who have magical abilities. These abilities fall into three categories, but mainly, the person can affect a particular element like metal or water. There are also some who can heal or kill using their powers. These grisha are treated like royalty, but really, they are servants to the king and used to protect the kingdom in various ways, especially with the wars that are waged in other countries.
Alina and Mal are orphans who were both tested to see if they were grisha at a young age. When both were found without magical abilities, they entered the military. Mal became an amazing tracker and Alina was a cartographer. But when their group attempts to cross the darkness, their ship is attacked. Only when it is found that Alina is actually a sun summoner (the only of her kind), they manage to make it back to the “coast” where they started.
Alina is then taken to live as a Grisha, leaving Mal and everything she knows behind. This story is mainly a transformation trope. Alina doesn’t believe in herself, isn’t really good at her cartography job, and then all of the sudden, she is this rare and powerful Grisha. Throughout the story, she is learning to trust herself and it’s in that trust that she becomes who she is meant to be.
This book is copyrighted back in 2012, so while it does follow a familiar formula, it was probably more groundbreaking when it first came out. Still, I think it holds the test of time, and I would recommend it to anyone who was intrigued by the Netflix trailer. Definitely worth the read.
There is no profanity in the book. Sexual content includes kissing and searching hands. Violent content includes the volka attacks and fight training. Some of the volka attacks are a little more detailed.