I’ll admit that I’m late to the party on this one, seeing that it was published five years ago and already has a sizeable fan base. As I was searching the library for a new read, the spine caught my eye. It and the cover are gorgeous, and I’m glad it stood out.
Objectively, this book was standard YA fantasy fare. There’s a simple magic system with rather straightforward world-building. There’s a heroine in love with her best friend, but intrigued by a mysterious stranger.
Well, standard fantasy fare or not, I loved this book.
Some of it was Ravka, the setting that immediately called to mind the stark beauty and culture of Imperial Russia. Some of it was Alina’s voice, and her growth as a character. Maybe it was even the premise of someone discovering within themselves an incredible power that they hadn’t suspected was there, as overdone as that seems to be.
I enjoyed the side characters and their development as well. The Darkling, Baghra, and Genya had interesting storylines that I hope to see more of in the rest of the series.
I didn’t think I would like Alina’s feelings for Mal, but the way they were handled were realistic. I think I liked this book so much because I found people’s emotions and motivations so believable. The characters could have walked right off the page.
From the moment I picked up this book I was absolutely hooked. I was so immersed in the story that I couldn’t put it down. While I usually dislike first person narration, I didn’t find it to be irritating at all. Instead, Bardugo’s writing had me glued to every page.
Alina’s voice was clear and compelling. I was emotionally invested in her journey, in her self-discoveries, and in the friendships and relationships she forged throughout the book.
If you’re looking for a rather incredible take on a straight-up YA fantasy, this is the one for you! I’ve already begun reading the second book as we speak.
Have you read Shadow and Bone? Did you think it was too over-hyped? Did you love it like I did, or not like it at all? Let me know in the comments below!