Spotlight Week Book Review: Shadow and Bone

This month’s Spotlight Week features the SHADOW & BONE, Book 1 of the Grisha Trilogy by YA Author Leigh Bardugo.


shadow and bone




368 pages, Hardcover

Genre: YA Ages 12 and up

Published on June 5, 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

ISBN-10: 0805094598

ISBN-13: 978-0805094596


First Line:

Standing on the edge of a crowded road, I looked down onto the rolling fields and abandoned farms of the Tula Valley and got my first glimpse of the Shadow Fold.



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.


My Review:

Author Leigh Bardugo has managed to create the entirely new genre of Tsarpunk by setting her high fantasy story in a Russian-esque country (instead of the usual medieval English setting).

The world-building in SHADOW & BONE is amazing. Leigh has come up with a unique magical system with her use of the Grisha— warrior magicians who can manipulate tides, winds, steel and even flesh. I love how Leigh stays true to her roots as a make-up artist, with her inclusion of a “flesh tailor”—a special kind of Grisha who can enhance the beauty of anyone, even an aging and vain queen.

The characters in this story are easy to love. Alina is a strong-willed and impulsive protagonist, whose lonely heart only desires to be loved. She is most at home with her best friend Mal, whose good looks and warrior skills can easily make any girl swoon. It was great fun to witness their relationship change from best friends, to barely friends to maybe more than friends.

But they aren’t the only characters who make the story more enjoyable. The Darkling is an enigma. He is a grisha who has the ability to control darkness. More importantly, he is a subtle villain whose motives don’t become clear until the very end. His sometimes charming nature overwhelms the mysteries surrounding him, and it’s easy to see why even the usually guarded Alina is drawn to him.

Alina is a sun-summoner, the only one in the land who has the ability to manipulate light. Together, she and Darkling are two halves of the perfect whole. But when Alina discovers the Darkling’s true intentions, her moral compass points her the other way—in a direction far from the Darkling’s grasp.

The plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways. Most of the scenes are filled with intrigue and secrets, while the rest are filled with action. Leigh Bardugo delivers the story in a language that is both simple and poetic. I found myself so immersed in the story that I managed to finish it in two and a half hours.

SHADOW & BONE is an enchanting and compelling read. It’s become one of my favorite fantasy stories and I’m eagerly looking forward to its sequel SIEGE & STORM.



Come back this Wednesday for the second part of the Spotlight Week, where we feature an interview with SHADOW & BONE Author Leigh Bardugo.

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31 Responses to “Spotlight Week Book Review: Shadow and Bone”

  1. Great review. So agree that the world building is great. Can’t wait to read Siege & Storm.

  2. First time I’ve heard of this one.

  3. How nice to find a review here today. Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Lexa Cain says:

    I sure like the idea of monsters wandering around in a “swath of near impenetrable darkness.” Thanks for the great review! :-)

  5. tcavey says:

    Looking forward to the author interview.

    thanks for the book review!

  6. Russia! What an original idea!

  7. Carina Olsen says:

    Great review 😀 Yay! I’m so glad you loved this book. <3 It's just so amazing. One of the best. I just love the world so much :) And Mal and Alina. <3 Hih :) Thank you for sharing 😀

  8. I love the illustrated cover and the achromatic color scheme with splashes of red! The opening line is killer too. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Pat Hatt says:

    Firs time I’ve heard of it, sounds like quite the hit. Will have a look, great review at your nook.

  10. Thanks for the review. I’m always looking for an original read and I think this may just be up my alley. :)

  11. I imagine a flesh-tailor would be in high demand.

  12. Nas says:

    Great review. Will have to read Siege & Storm after reading your review of it.

  13. Jemi Fraser says:

    Sounds great! I’ve been hearing about this – it’s now on my wishlist! :)

  14. Robyn Engel says:

    It sounds like an adventurous read. When I read the first line, I was impressed by its poetic feel. You confirmed that that’s her style. I’ll keep this one in mind.


  15. Sounds like an awesome book. Great review.

  16. Akoss says:

    A lot of YA readers have been raving about this book. I’m thinking since it is that good, I’m going to wait until the last book is released to read it all back to back. 😉

  17. Great review. You know all the good reads. I will be back on Wednesday. Your posts make it easier to look forward to hump day.

  18. Mina B. says:

    I love the cover. I haven’t read it yet but I’ve been contemplating adding it to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Mary Pax says:

    That sounds like quite a wonderful read. Congrats to Leigh!

  20. I keep reading about this one, but I have yet to add it to my TBR list. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid the stack of books is going to fall over and crush me, but I just might have to teeter this one on top. 😉

  21. C says:

    Sounds like a great beginning to a good trilogy. Thanks for an awesome review.

  22. LOL – I didn’t finish typing my name, even though the form says it’s required!

  23. I’ve seen the book, but until this post, I had no idea what it was about. Great review. I might have to add it to my TBR list.

  24. VR Barkowski says:

    Great review, terrific cover, and it sounds like a truly unique read, which I love. Plus, I’m totally entranced with the idea of Tsarpunk. :)
    Congrats to Leigh!

    VR Barkowski

  25. mshatch says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this but also hate the thought of waiting for the other two books because I have a feeling I’ll want them immediately.

  26. Jagoda says:

    This story sounds like a fun and engaging read. I may have to add it to my (long) “Read This” list.
    Thanks for having followed much of my AtoZ journey–really loved having you read and comment.

  27. Hi, Nutschell,
    Interesting story. Your review makes me want to dive in and read

  28. Meradeth says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this for a while! Thanks for the great review!

  29. ha! Tsarpunk sounds cool

  30. […] Curious to know more? Check out my review of the book. […]

  31. […] you haven’t heard of Shadow & Bone, check out my review. And if you want to know more about the fabulous Leigh Bardugo, have a peek at her author […]

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