Alina Starkov doesn't expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal--and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina's extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart--and her country--in two.
To quote a book reviewer I admire very much (link to her review)- "Have you ever read a book that starts out on a familiar path and then veers off it so completely that you're left slack-jawed in the dust? That's Shadow and Bone in a nutshell."
There is soooo much I want to exclaim about but I can't spoil you- of course, you've probably read it already. I'm fully aware that I'm the last on this bandwagon. Not to worry, I've already ordered the rest of the series(:
Wow. Shadow and Bone is comprised of all the familiar elements an experienced fantasy reader has known and loved since forever. So naturally, I automatically enjoyed the beginning of this novel. But then never did I DREAM that it would take me where it took me.
Love triangle- not in any conventional way. And that's all I can say. You'll see.
Characters- Alina was more real than most heroes I usually read about. She had her tough and her weak moments, but ultimately was brave and true and smart. More importantly, she was complex, which will forever be the most prized trait for me in literature. Mal- I judged him in the beginning, but in the end loved him. He too was another example of a realistic character. A typical guy, one like many of your real guy friends, but incredibly lovable all the same. The Darkling- I just. Woah.
Plot- Leigh Bardugo, congratulations. You are the first author in many years to utterly fool me. I don't mean throw in a surprise betrayal. I mean, seriously mislead me in regards of where the plot was heading. Absolutely superb!
Setting- In stark contrast to the last book I completed, Deep Blue, where the names and terminology seemed silly and completely made up, Shadow and Bone's system is based on Middle Ages Russia. It made for an amazing set up.
Writing and Pacing- L-o-v-e-l-y. All in all? I HEART THIS BOOK. READ IT NOW.