Since I loved Six of Crows of course I had to pick up the series that started it all: Shadow and Bone. Much more young adult in vibe and feel, Shadow and Bone is still unique enough to be an engaging read.
The country of Ravka has been at war for over 100 years – surrounded by enemies and rivals to the north and the south. They have a distinct advantage though, the training and usage of people with magical abilities: the Grisha. But this advantage has come at a price. Long ago, an unknown Grisha experimenting with his powers ripped open a hole in the universe, right through the entire country. Inside this “unsea” horrible creatures prey on the few brave enough to travel through to the other side. The most powerful Grisha in the land, the Darkling, has dedicated his life to finding a way to destroy the fold.
He may have found it in an orphaned soldier, Alina Starkov. When monsters from the fold attack her, she unleashes her dormant power, stronger possibly than even the Darkling. Now, Alina is thrust into a world she doesn’t know, training to fight the darkness itself. But not everyone is who they say they are, and the only person she can truly trust is her best friend, Mal.
In a way, this book is kind of standard young adult fare. But the beginning is anything but, and I was hooked because of it. The first journey into the fold is horrifying and really put the Grishaverse into perspective for me. Violent, visceral terror that was reminiscent of that movie Pitch Black. I loved it.
As evident from Six of Crows, Bardugo is very skilled at dialogue. But again, Shadow and Bone is much more young adult. And damn me if a love triangle didn’t start to form. Why do female main characters always fall into a love triangle? After the fast pace of Crows it really slowed me down.
Clearly, my view has been tarnished because of that book. But I still enjoyed Shadow and Bone very much. A solid young adult adventure with a beautiful, semi-realized world. One that I guarantee will only get built out in future novels.
3 out of 4 stars