Book Reviews

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Okay y’all. I’m not going to lie. Only reading this because of the upcoming Netflix series. Mostly because I want to watch and see Kaz and Inej, but didn’t want to completely spoil myself for the OG trilogy. So I’m going to be reading this original trilogy and sharing my thoughts in this book review!


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.


You might have seen the Youtube Video already where I shared my reading reactions with you! But I decided I wanted to post a written recap of my thoughts on Shadow and Bone. I’m not sure if it’s just me, the hype surrounding this series, or just that I didn’t read this before Six of Crows, but I just thought Shadow and Bone was okay. I wasn’t as in love with it as the hype might have led me to believe. But I actually think that may be a more common opinion than I thought considering when I was on Twitter a bunch of people said it wasn’t for them, or was just okay.


I do not get the hype surrounding The Darkling. I did not ship the romantic tension between them at all and, as a character as well, I was a bit mystified by him. And not in one of those charming ways. I just felt like I didn’t know enough about him really to have a strong feeling one way or another. He didn’t really have enough scenes with Alina for me to ‘ship’ them and I didn’t really see the hype surrounding him in general. So many people have referred to him almost as a reference point for morally grey villains and I just didn’t really see it? Is this just me?


I did enjoy that this was very much a story about Alina. About her journey, her quest to reveal – and control – her powers, as well as define what matters to her. Not to mention I have a thing for map makers! But at the same time, while I liked Alina, there wasn’t that strong pull for me to become obsessed with her. Alina’s story is about discovery especially as she’s thrown into the Grisha court. Maybe this is just because we have to spend a bit more time with the characters, but I was lacking that strong pull I have towards some of the main characters I’ve read.

I felt a resonance towards her as she has to struggle with moving forwards and coming to terms with the past. Alina has to figure out who she truly is in a world that only seeks to use her. So I could empathize with her loneliness, the ways she is sort of left adrift to fend for herself and find comfort, and allies, where she can. But there were some plot points that I really don’t understand from a logical perspective. I can’t really get into them (I do in the video), but yeah I was just like, “excuse me but what?”


This has to do with the whole hype factor entirely. And probably is the most personal of the three main reactions to Shadow and Bone. Shadow and Bone felt okay to me? But also, in a way, very “standard YA Fantasy”. There’s a lot that can be said for books, which have been big successes, helping future books. I wasn’t really reading YA around 2012 when this released so I can’t really define if that’s the case with Shadow and Bone. At the same time, I read this after already knowing a bit more about the Grisha so, for me, this wasn’t a new world.

It’s also no shade to anything that I have thought of as “standard YA Fantasy” because I can think of a few which I’d lump in there and have loved. I just guess the hype train made it seem like something else in my mind? It’s impossible to not go into Shadow and Bone without that hype in the back of my mind. And that’s definitely a very personal issue to have that no one reading in 2015 might have had. But this wouldn’t be a genuine review without me mentioning how the hype impacted this read.

I’m not even saying I didn’t like Shadow and Bone. I’m definitely going to keep reading the series, mostly so I’ll be ready for the show. If there was no show and no pressure to finally catch up would I read it? Maybe not. But not in a, “I didn’t like this and never wanna read it again” but in a, “I have a lot of other books I want to read a bit more”. Anyway, I hope that I haven’t made any of you really angry! That’s the thing about books – they’re so subjective!

Find Shadow and Bone on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What’s a hyped book that didn’t work for you?

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2 thoughts on “Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Yeah, I didn’t really get the Darkling thing either. I read this series when they first announced the adaptation and I think I felt the same way you did about the book. I found the second one a bit more enjoyable but you could take or leave the last one.

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