Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

4.5/5 Stars
Published by Henry Holt & Company 
Published June 5, 2012

Synopsis: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

My oh my! What an excellent read! The pace of this story made for a plot that was wonderfully executed and described. Leigh Bardugo's writing style is one of my favorites to date, mainly because it left me enthralled. It was super easy to fall into every little detail; I was hanging onto every word on those pages like it was my last. 

Shadow and Bone introduces a world similar to that of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In this story, there are people known as Grisha who have special powers. For example, Tidemakers control water, Squallers control wind and air pressure, and Inferni control gas --- hence the comparison to Avatar where you have waterbenders, firebenders, etc. I found these Grisha to be quite interesting, which was one of the main reasons why I finished the trilogy so fast. It was so interesting to see the hierarchy of the Grisha and to see how they live and survive amongst non-grisha. 

One of the many things that left me wanting more was my attachment to the characters in the book. With each one introduced, I felt an immediate connection to (this of course left me heartbroken in many situations). Alina Starkov, the main protagonist in this story, had me right under her thumb the moment the story took off. Alina is a tad bit quiet and reserved when the story begins, but as it develops you really get to see her break out of her shell. She becomes strong-willed and determined, but manages to keep her head. Malyen Oretsev (Mal) is Alina's best friend and is made out to be that one guy every girl has a crush on. He is edgy, tough, and definitely seems to be the handsome type. It really took me a while to enjoy his character, but as the plot moved forward I grew fond of him.

Now we get to talk about The Darkling. The Darkling is my favorite character in this entire book. There is a certain darkness (ironic) around him that makes him such an interesting character. I find that there is more depth to him than Mal, which may be why I loved his character so much. There were so many more layers to uncover and dig into, merely because of his peculiar aura. The Darkling is cunning, mysterious and pretty damn charming. There were various parts in the book where I even found myself swooning over him. 

The plot of this story was very intricately woven. There were many ups and downs, and lefts and rights, but it all came back together to successfully move the story forward. There were no moments in this book where I felt like the plot was at a standstill. Everything Leigh Bardugo wrote about was essential to the plot. 

Shadow and Bone introduces a great mystery in which the heroes and the villains turn around and laugh in your face, all of sudden turning out to be not at all what they seem. It's fast pace with adventure at every turn. All in all, I loved it. 

“Make me your villain.”