Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Here’s my review for Shadow and Bone, a YA fantasy that is becoming a Netflix TV series in April! I’m hoping to read and review the full book series before the show is released, but we’ll see how that goes! Just as a warning, there are a few mild spoilers in my review.

shadow and bone 2


➸ YA fantasy

➸  published in 2012

➸  content warnings: animal death, toxic relationship






☆ PLOT: 3




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.

I had very low expectations going in to this, so maybe that’s why I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed it (it could also be my attachment to Six Of Crows or imagining it as a TV series, but who knows). Although Six of Crows is easily 10 x better and I can’t help but to compare it, I liked seeing more of the world and how the magic actually works. I would recommend reading Shadow and Bone first, because that’s the order you’re meant to read it in, but just know Leigh Bardugo’s work definitely gets better!

“This is the truth of him, I thought as I squinted in the dazzling light. Like calls to like. This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow.”
Although the story relied on lots of common YA tropes and lines, quotes like this one are what elevates it slightly from a generic YA fantasy. The story explores the dynamics of power and the differences between love and desire, which I think will be a big theme in the sequel too. As you can see, the writing style can be beautiful, but it’s also easy to read, making it very addictive! I found it hard to put down. The plot was not complex or intricate like the plot of Six of Crows was, but I think it was a good set up all the same. The pacing and the stakes picked up in the last third and I was very invested.

Now for the characters. Alina was a generic and plain character on the surface, but there was more depth to her than just common YA traits, and there’s a lot of room for character development. Although I didn’t like the constant beauty comparison, I did enjoy being in her head and seeing her work through her insecurities. I do think that it could have benefitted from more perspectives though – Mal and Genya’s POVs in the extra content added so much more to the story! Mal was quite bland but again, reading from his POV won me over (also, he’s definitely not as bad as everyone makes him out to be. I didn’t like him at first but he grew on me). The Darkling‘s character was much more intriguing and compelling. I have to admit that I was into him for the first half (I don’t blame Alina for her feelings towards him at all), but I immediately did a 180 after we learn more about the truth of him. Alina and The Darkling’s relationship was quite complicated and it brought up lots of questions about power and desire, like I mentioned. There were some interesting side characters like Genya and Baghra, but other characters were more basic, like Zoya who had no personality trait except being a mean girl.

While I enjoyed Shadow and Bone, it wasn’t perfect. But I think there’s a lot of potential for the sequel, so I’m looking forward to read on!

Thanks for reading my review! Are you excited for the TV series?


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    1. I knoww, at first I liked the Darkling but I couldn’t support him after learning who he was. Thanks for sharing the review, a lot of it involves the whole of the series so that makes me think I might end up being a Mal hater in the next books ah

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes, I’m very stoked about the Netflix series! 😊 And I’ve never minded Mal either, and honestly don’t get why people hate him so much! Sure, Nikolai and the Darkling are more interesting, but I always felt that Mal and Alina were right for each other…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you completely!! I’m so happy to hear you’re someone who tolerates Mal, I love him as a character and I get so defensive whenever somebody hates on him 😅 Can’t wait to see your thoughts on the rest of the series!! Great review ❤️


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