Michelle's Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

book cover ARC: 358 pages 
Publisher: Henry Holt
 Release Date: June 5, 2012
ISBN: 9780805094596
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Grisha Trilogy #1

Other title: The Gathering Dark (UK)
Synopsis (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.

Michelle's Review:
When I first heard of Shadow and Bone I knew it was a book I had to read. It just sounded so good and I was especially excited about the Russian influence. I am very happy that this novel did not disappoint. I did have some minor issues but overall it was a fantastic start to the Grisha trilogy and I cannot wait for the next book.

Initially, the thing that drew me to this book was the Russian aspect of the novel. For some reason, before reading the novel, I thought the novel was set in an alternate magical Russia and that we'll see familiar Russian historical figures. But that is not it at all. Ravka is a unique world with Russian influences in fashion, food, furnishings and language--which was still fun to read about but I was expecting something more

I liked Alina's character. Before her power was revealed, there's nothing really special about her and she can easily get lost in the crowd. She's an orphan, lonely and not sure of her place in the world. The only person she can talk to is her best friend Mal but lately she feels awkward around him because she likes him as more than a friend but he did not seem to share her feelings. I like the way her character grew from that unsure girl to a more confident, strong (both personally and physically) woman.

However, Alina was hardly the most interesting character here. There were a lot of dark and mysterious characters in this novel like the Darkling and the Apparat (in my mind he looks like Rasputin) and you are not quite sure what they're about. Are they good and trustworthy? Or do they have a different agenda? I like not knowing and having to figure them out along with Alina.

There is a sort of love triangle and usually I dislike them but here it is not your typical love triangle. I don't want to elaborate because it will be spoiler-y but I am curious if the author will do something more with it in the second book. (Read the book and you'll see what I mean!)

The novel did start a little awkwardly. I didn't quite know where the author was going to take the introduction of the characters and the world. It also took me a little while to work out and understand what the Grisha army was all about and its hierarchy (the chart included in the beginning of the novel did help). However, once you get past all that it was pretty much smooth sailing. I couldn't stop reading and kept on until the wee hours of the morning.

Shadow and Bone is immensely readable. The ending is satisfying yet you definitely want more. This novel is an excellent start to a new addicting fantasy series. It will leave readers hooked and eagerly awaiting the release of book two.


  1. I just heard of this book today through my favorite podcast, where it got a rave review. Seeing as how you enjoyed it as well I'll definitely be making an effort to get a hold of this book.

  2. I've heard a lot of interesting things about this book, but I've never given it much thought. I'm glad I read your review now. I'm definitely going to read this one.

  3. Thanks for this great review and giveaway!! I've heard nothing but good things about this book

  4. This book sounds amazing and unique! I also love the Russian aspect of the novel. I think that's really original. I'm glad you liked it! Great review!

  5. Sounds like a really unique fantasy. Thanks for writing such a great review!

  6. Ravka. Interesting name for an interesting world. And Alina sounds like a good heroine. :D

  7. Wow i need to seriously read this book!!!

  8. Thanks for the review! I was still debating whether or not to put this on my TBR list since a couple of my friends didn't like it as much but your review made me want to read it :)

  9. The Apparat made me think of Rasputin too! He's just so mysterious with very detail about his motivations and plans. Can't wait to learn more about him in the second book!

  10. Great review! Now that both you and Veronica Roth have recommended it, I am deff going to give it a go.

  11. Very thought provoking review. Can't wait to read the book.

  12. I've heard so many amazing things about this book. I'm glad you liked it, Michelle! :D It makes me so excited to read the book. I'm not one for love triangles either, but if this book is good enough to pull it off, I seriously need to read it asap!

  13. Thanks for your review! Shadow and Bone has been on my wishlist for awhile, but I was always a bit reluctant since I am not familiar with Russian history, but I've been hearing so many AWESOME things about this book (I don't think I've come across a single negative review yet!)

    I love a complex heroine, and Alina sounds like my kind of girl!

    Thanks for the review, and HAPPY READING~ =)
    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

  14. I want to read very badly. Great review...

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  15. I've heard many great things about Shadow and Bone and your review did not disappoint! Thanks!

  16. Wow! What a meaningful review! I appreciate that you were positive throughout, but also told what was awkward for you and what you were looking for more of. I'm really looking forward to reading this, especially for the Russian-esque-ness. And I hear there's a lot of food in it too. I love books with food.

  17. I've heard about this book a while back, and I still haven't had the chance to yet. I didn't realise it was set in Russia though, now I'm really excited to read this book hehe. Great review!

  18. I haven't read this book yet but I heard it was pretty good. THanks for the review.

  19. I thought the love triangle wasn't up to par compared to the rest of the book. Alina and Mal do not seem to have much interaction for the most part, while the Darkling had the attributes of a pedophile.

    Not many things are explained in this mysterious world of Ravka as well. Although I had issues with the above, I enjoyed it as much as you did. Alina' maturation into a strong heroine was probably the best part of Shadow and Bone.

    Great review. Your explanation of the flow of Shadow and Bone is spot on.

  20. Dear Michelle,

    Thank you for a very thoughtful and HONEST review! I find that really refreshing. Thank you. I'd rather know quirks up front, and also that it's STILL worthwhile to read. I can understand expecting "more" but it not paying off. Perhaps it is potential for book 2? Maybe reader feedback might influence an unexpected surprise development? Let's hope so! I love the Russian vibe, too, and that's what is drawing me to want to read it, although your review certainly added to that desire. Thank you and I hope to read and review this book! :D


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