Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Dramatic skyThe Shadow Fold hovers over the desolate wasteland called the Unsea. It divides the country of Ravka, separating the capitol city of Os Alta from the True Sea. The only way to reach the seaports is to travel through the perpetual darkness of the Fold.

As a mapmaker in the First Army, Alina Starkov has no choice but to board the sandskiffs and hope her regiment can cross the Unsea without drawing the attention of the volcra living within the Fold. Her only comfort is that her childhood friend Mal is going too. She feels safer knowing he’ll be close by.

That feeling of safety disappears as soon as they enter the darkness. Alina can’t see anything—not even her own hand—but she can hear the flap of leathery wings just before the volcra arrive. Chaos erupts, and Mal is wounded when he tries to save Alina. In a moment of desperation, Alina awakens a dormant ability within herself that drives away the volcra.

Alina’s ability makes her Ravka’s greatest hope. It also makes her the target of assassins. She’s rushed off to the capitol without a chance to say goodbye to Mal, and when she reaches Os Alta, Alina quickly becomes the center of attention. She struggles with her sudden fame, her new ability, and the political intrigue revolving around her. It’s hard to know who the enemy really is, and Mal—the one person she can trust—isn’t responding to her letters.

Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone is entertaining and imaginative. She builds a vivid world with a delightful Russian flavor, and the element of magic is artfully woven in, making it the glittering icing on the cake. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in her Grisha series: Siege and Storm. Divergent author Veronica Roth gave it the thumbs up, so it has to be good, right?

For extra credit, read the Entertainment Weekly article featuring Veronica Roth and Leigh Bardugo. They talk about strong leading ladies, movie adaptations, and future books in their series.

©2013 Kim Vandel

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