Review: Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1)

Apparently I was right in my last post! To just sit and read for a few hours, I needed to give up on the other two books and just pick another of my extensive TBR list. I picked the first book in the Grisha trilogy, the series that exists in the same world as the Six of Crows duology that I absolutely adore. Shadow and Bone is the first book, and I accepted going in that it wasn’t going to be nearly as awesome as Six of Crows because honestly that series is practically untouchable in my eyes!

Alina is an orphan. She is a footsoldier in the First Army of Ravka, a country split in two by the Shadow Fold – a stretch of unnatural darkness full of monstrous creatures. Alina is nothing extra-ordinary, but when her regiment is attacked in the fold, Alina releases a power she didn’t know she had and her world changes forever. In a world where there are two types of people, the ordinary and the Grisha – those who can manipulate an aspect of the world around them – Alina finds herself catapulted from the ordinary into the world of the Grisha and falling under the spell of their charismatic notorious leader, the Darkling. The Darkling believes that Alina’s unique power could end the darkness of the Shadow Fold and restore order to their war ravaged country. As the threat to the kingdom increases, Alina has to learn how to control her wild gift and unlock the secrets of the past to protect the people she loves, and the country she serves.

The Grisha are an order of semi-military people who has the ability to manipulate part of their environment. Alina is a Summoner, and she has the incredibly rare ability to summon light. She is transformed from a simple peasant girl orphan to the hope of the entire country, training with the Grisha in their military-style camp. It’s all a bit of a culture shock and there is a lot of power-plays she doesn’t understand and she gets a bit swept up in it all.

The world is familiar, because I’ve read Six of Crows, but also incredibly different. Six of Crows is set in the Country of Kerch, a sea away from Ravka. The Grisha are an order of Ravka, and also a couple of hundred of years pre- Kaz/Inej and crew. The world is established with elements of Russian culture interspersed and the world building, drawing on the history of Ravka and the precarious political situation, is exciting and magical. Like, the children are tested for Grisha powers early in life, taken from their families like some sort of Jedi school.

The characters are a bit hit and miss – Alina can be a little annoying and spineless and just plain whiney at time, but then she has been taken from everything familiar (including childhood best friend Mal) and just deposited with the Grisha like some sort of salvation. Her newfound friend, Tailor and servant, Genya, is my favourite. She is sarcastic and full of gossip and honestly I ship it. Alas, not to be. The Darkling is all brooding and Byronic and tortured and you can never guess what his motives are, ever. Alina spends half the time second-guessing him. Mal is Alina’s best friend from childhood but when they meet again he’s all angry and feeling betrayed.

Heterosexual romance of course, staple in any YA plot unfortunately. I disliked one, didn’t have any strong emotions for the other. Honestly, Alina is a bit annoying about them both. But also, the second romance is way better.

In summary, it is a good book, a nice easy read, lots of vivid descriptions and a nice addition to a world I already enjoyed (Of course, this trilogy came out before the duology, but oh well). I will admit to preferring the duology, but that was a given. It’s good having the background on the Ravkan’s and the war which lead to the political unrest in SoC. I really shouldn’t compare Shadow and Bone with Six of Crows but it was inevitable. I enjoyed the first in the Grishaverse, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to Alina and Mal, and also the secondary characters Alina became friends/allies with.

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