Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Five Word Summary

Lavish, villainous, epic, tense, satisfying.


  • Fantasy lovers
  • ‘The One’ lovers
  • Lovers of YA fantasy


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.

My Thoughts

I know, I am super late in coming to this series, but I want to read the later duology and felt I needed to knock over the original series first.

Initially, I struggled a little to get into the story and it didn’t grip me, but once I’d pushed past the beginning (and let’s face it, many fantasies are like that as you settle into the world) I was well hooked.

I always read the reviews of other readers before I do mine and I was fascinated to see that many people didn’t particularly like Alina or the love interest, Mal. I, however, enjoyed both characters. In fact, I thought all the characters were fun and engaging.

It was the perfect combination of simply allowing the reader to sit in the world without over explaining and yet; it built nicely throughout the book.The Fold (an area of land that has been magicked) was unique, imaginative and quite horrifying.

The story hits many classic fantasy tropes nicely on the head. We have The One trope, the training trope, the falling for the highly desirable bad guy, the quest and travel tropes and all are nicely done.

I also give the ending a huge thumbs up. Without giving too much away, it was a refreshing way to end the story. Sure, it left some questions unanswered (perfectly setting up book 2), but you are not left with a cliffhanger.


The cover is good. Not gobsmacking, but it fits the genre and age group nicely.

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