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.
About the Characters
I felt like the characters in Shadow and Bone really hit home. Alina was a strong character even with her faults and insecurities. She's filled with insults and sass and is incredibly stubborn-- and you'd think that those traits would make her unlikable, but she's also loyal and compassionate. There were times when I thought a change in her character came too suddenly and wasn't realistic, or that she would do something entirely out of character for seemingly no reason, but none of these really made me dislike her or feel bothered about her.
Mal, her childhood best friend, started out as pretty bland for me. I didn't really start to like him until at least halfway through the book, since he isn't present for a huge chunk. One of the big things that I disliked was that although he was missing for so much of the book, I barely noted his absence. Yeah, Alina was always talking about him and how much she missed him, but we don't really get to know him at all until near the end of the book. Once I started to learn more about him, I found him a lot more likable, but it kind of felt like he didn't have enough layers to his character. Like... "what you see is what you get". In a word, Mal was sweet.
The Darkling was, well... have you heard "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift? Yeah. I've got a quote from there that describes him perfectly.
I'm not entirely sure how to describe the Darkling without giving away spoilers. Yes, he is powerful. Yes, he has magic. Yes, he could be classified as the "bad boy" -- but there is a ton more to him.
He was incredibly well written and fantastic in the role he played. That is all.
Of course, I can't forget about Genya. She was awesome. Sassy and brilliant.
About the Setting & World-Building
(This includes the food. I liked the food.)
Okay, so, the names really confused me. I got the part that Grisha's can use magic but, um... how many different types of Grisha are there??? And do they all have confusing names? (Tailor & Summoner = the two simplest Grisha-Group names you will find in this book. It felt like there were at least ten but I have no idea. There might be only three.)
I wanted to know more about how the Grisha's magic worked. I didn't want to listen to Alina feel bad. I wanted to know why only certain people were born with magic, why it came along late for others, what made the Darkling so much more powerful, etc. In short, I just wanted to know more about the magic.
And what is the Shadow Fold? This big area of total blackness with lots of monsters flying around?
I did like how things were described in Alina's daily life. I got the whole "Russian" feel with some of the names. I feel like the author did an awesome job with the food. (I just can't get over the food, sorry.)