Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo – 5 Stars
THIS! This is how you write the first book of a series. There was action, romance, mystery, suspense, intrigue.
It was descriptive without being redundant.
There were fantasy elements that were not so overly done where you may get confused or lost.
The characters drew me in right from the start. They were flawed, their relationships were emotional, and I loved how relatable they all were.
The world and culture in which the story takes place is quickly and clearly established.
Basically, Leigh gets to the fucking point in Chapter 1 and I love her for it.
The blurb does a good job of summarizing what this is all about. Alina is a part of the King’s Army along with her best friend Mal. When they are picked to cross the “Shadow Fold” – basically a black hole with these really disgusting creatures that feast on humans – Alina discovers a power that has been dormant her whole life. She is then whisked away to the royal palace where she is inducted into the Second Army aka the Grisha aka people who possess certain powers and are led by the Darkling. After summoning her “power”, Alina discovers a secret that can lead to the destruction of her country and those she loves.
Got it? Good.
Let’s just take a moment to discuss the Darkling now, shall we?
“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”
I am usually the first person to roll their eyes and scoff when it comes to “villains.” And the first one to think drooling over the villain is so freaking cliché.
Yea. I take it back. I loved this smooth talking mysterious bastard. I haven’t been this intrigued by a character in a LONG TIME and I love how complex he is. Nothing is black and white when it comes to him and I am itching to read and find out more.
“Did you tell him, Alina? Does the boy know how willing you were to give yourself to me?
Did you tell him what I showed you in the dark?”
Alina was such a genuine character. And I know people can complain about the typical “chosen girl with powers” narrative that is so common among these types of reads, but I never once found myself annoyed with her and for me, everything done with her in this book just worked.
“And I reached out to the thing within me that I’d kept hidden for so long.
I’m sorry, I whispered to it.
I’m sorry I left you so long in the dark.
I’m sorry, but I’m ready now.”
And Mal. I didn’t forget about you Mal! Your scenes with Alina pulled at my heart strings and I read them over and over and over.
“So don’t tell me we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely. He was very close now, and my heart was suddenly hammering in my chest. “I’m sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.”
I could sit here and nitpick about things I would have liked to see, or change, or questions I didn’t get answered. But I am well aware that this is the first book to a series and I am certain things will get addressed later on. The point is, this drew me in and kept me intrigued throughout. It’s been a while since I have felt completely immersed in a book and felt a connection to the characters right from the start. I loved everything about this and have wasted enough time writing this review so off to book 2 I go!