Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishers: Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
Published Date: June 5th 2012
My rating: 4 out of 5
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.
Review: In the fantasy land of Ravka, that is reminiscent of Old Russia, Alina and her childhood friend Mal are in the army. Alina has found being a mapmaker one of the few things she can do because she enjoys drawing. Mal is good as a tracker. When they were 8 years old they were tested for possible Grisha skills (magic) but both were found to have nothing of value.
But when their lives are threatened crossing the infamous 'Fold' (a swathe of darkness that hampers the land) Alina's power shines out like the sun and pushes the enemy away. From that moment her life changes beyond all measure.
This is a wonderful story, written with such super precision. The world building is easy to understand and no aspect of Alina's adventure drags on for chapter after chapter. The pace is steady and the conclusion is reached with wonderful tension building and leaves us wondering what will happen next.
Alina is a plucky, courageous character, and although I had doubts about Mal in the beginning, he did show his true colours towards the end. The Darkling was charming and came over altogether as a misunderstood leader who wanted the best for his kingdom. But his dark intentions come true near the end. In a way I was sorry it turned that way because I think the pairing of the Darkling and a Sun Summoner (Alina) would have been an interesting twist. I think in the end, when we get the next book, only Alina can save him from himself.
Altogether a great read that will keep you on the edge of your toes!!