Alina and Mal grew up together as orphans. The both end up serving in the army for Ravka. There is a dark, dangerous enemy who has created "the Fold" which divides the country. Whenever they try to cross the Fold, lives are lost. Alina is going to make her first trip across, and when she does, she not only survives, but she saves others' lives with a strange ability that she didn't know she possessed.
Alina is a Grisha. Once this is discovered, she is swept away for training and to live a life of luxury. She misses Mal, and wonders what has happened to him, but she's also entranced by the Darkling, the leader for the Grisha. Alina's power has given everyone hope that they can conquer the Fold and end the war.
The action in Shadow and Bone just doesn't stop. It is difficult to be comfortable setting the book down, because the characters are ones that we care about. There are always many questions -- will Alina be able to harness and strengthen her power? What are the Darkling's motives? What happened to Mal? Then there is a big plot twist, and everything changes once again for Alina.
The world is set up very well. There's the Fold, with these horrible deadly creatures inhabiting it. The royal court and the Little Castle are vivid. The various types of Grisha are interesting. There's much detail in Shadow and Bone, but it never bogs down. Bardugo describes well, but keeps the pace going.
Things get all messed up at the end of Shadow and Bone. There's a bit of closure to this episode, but we must get the next installment soon!
For someone who would list fantasy at the bottom of her list of favorite genres, Shadow and Bone was a pleasant surprise. It reminded me a bit of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which I also loved. They both have female main character ripped from everything they know, and they become strong and resourceful, grow and change for the better, and end up on a huge quest. For fantasy fans, this is a "must read."
Published by Henry Holt, June 5, 2012
eBook obtained from NetGalley
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