Shadow and Bone [The Grisha, #1] by Leigh Bardugo

A fantasy like no other; heady with Russian flavour

Shadow and Bone [The Grisha, #1]
by Leigh Bardugo
Henry Holt | Hardcover, 356 pages
Alina is content with her station in life. Orphaned with no one but her friend Mal by her side, she’s more than happy to be a lacklustre cartographer-in-training. In a world where mystical abilities and powers abound, Alina simply had no ambition to be anything more than what she can offer to serve her country.

On the day when her regimen attempted to cross The Fold, she comes to a great power unlike anything anyone’s ever witnessed. Coveted by The Darkling himself, the Sun Summoner is almost as fabled as the source of the amplifiers┬áneeded to augment Grisha’s power. But it’s not as easy as it looks. Alina’s powers doesn’t come out as naturally as others’ does. She needed tutelage, training and a little bit of self-examination to figure out what’s holding it back. Whatever it is, Alina has to figure out fast. Time is running out, Grishas’ powers are slowly coming to an end, and The Fold is in danger of swallowing Ravka whole.

As much as you’d like to savour this book, Bardugo’s effectively straight-forward writing prevents readers from doing exactly that. This fantasy novel is not a daunting read; it’s also not a sweeping tale,wholly uncharacteristic of the usual fare we see in this genre. But it’s what makes it all the more arresting; all the more unputdownable. It’s got monsters and magic and mystical places homogenous in the genre. The author has got some pretty interesting take on the monsters in her book. She makes them more human and her human more like monsters. This is also rich in Russian flavour: words, customs, culture, names…etc. While it could be a hindrance to some, the story line is enchanting enough that others would learn to ignore that fact and follow along with little bother.

The romance it featured was something I’m usually not a fan of. I hate love triangles. Especially if the girl in the middle was supposedly, er plain. I’ve heard talks and gushes directed toward this Darkling; and it’s rare when the bad guy gets more props than the leading man. About a few chapters in, I’ve got to admit, I see the fascination. For once, I’m not so ready to discount his anti-hero status. I’m excited to see where he stands when the dust settles.

I don’t know why I’ve put off reading this book. Perhaps it’s the overwhelming 5-star reception that it had so far been getting. Perhaps I wasn’t really too keen on picking up another fantasy novel that I pre-judged to be a disappointment due to its flimsy page count. But whatever the reason, I’m glad that I finally go to read it.

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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