|Isn't the cover gorgeous? I bought this for my Kindle, but I may need to own a copy too.|
It's not very often that I find myself falling through the pages of a new book and landing in a richly drawn world of wonder. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo did just that. I wish I had the words to accurately describe the elation that comes with a great book. It's better than chocolate. It's better than a good red wine. It's better than most things, but that's probably because I'm a huge book nerd (and proud!).
Shadow and Bone, the first installment of the Grisha trilogy, introduces us to Alina Starkov - assistant cartographer in the Second Army, orphan, and lovesick over her childhood friend Mal. The story is set in the country of Ravka (think old world Russia with sleighs and a lot of words with the letter "k" that end in "i") which is hewn in half by a swath of "nearly impenetrable darkness" called the Shadow Fold. As Alina's regiment prepares to make the dangerous crossing through the Fold, and face the night monsters that live there, we're fed small bits of the country's history and its magician/scientist/soldier caste called the Grisha. The Grisha stand apart from everyone else in the land as having special abilities and they are used as weapons, protectors, and sometimes cheap entertainment. The leader of the Grisha, and second in status to only the king, is the Darkling - powerful, dangerous, gorgeous.
As all journeys through impenetrable darkness go, this one ends in horror. The only bright spot is literally Alina herself. She is a gifted Grisha Sun Summoner, only no one knew it. Quickly whisked away from danger to the capital city and the intrigues of court, Alina discovers who she is and finds a place for herself in the world. Here we see some common YA tropes in typical boarding school fashion, but nothing could keep me from reading on. I was intrigued by the world, Bardugo's clean, easy style, and in love with Alina herself.
The story's themes of belonging, finding a true sense of self, and the murky lines between light and dark were wonderfully executed. There is so much more I want to say about this read, but none of it can be done without spoilers. I hope more people pick up this read soon so I can have someone to gush with. There is no doubt in my mind that this book is taking off. I expect great things from Bardugo and the the rest of the Grisha series.
Verdict = Favorite read of 2012
Educate yourself on the topic in this post:
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10194157-shadow-and-bone