Synopsis from Goodreads.
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 unlikely 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.
So I have this tendency to make up a phrase or a word and use it so often and determinedly that I actually forget that it’s not a real thing. I am often reminded that I
am a ridiculous human being have this tendency when I mention said phrase/word to other people and they look at me for a moment before backing away slowly.
Today, ladies and gentlemen, you are about to witness the creation of one of these phrases.
OK, I should probably explain this one.
I stay way clear of certain books. The ones with girls in flouncy dresses on the cover. The ones with more than one love interest. The ones with the phrase “inexplicably drawn to each other” in the synopsis. The ones where the heroines discover they are special and they are the only ones who can save the world.
I’ve had bad experiences with those books. They make me cranky. But there are a few authors who have written books that have fallen into those above characters, ticked all of those evil, evil boxes and I have completely and thoroughly enjoyed them.
“I will eat my reviewing bonnet if I end up liking this one because it’s probably going to be diiiiire.”
And they’re not… not at all.
Geddit? Bonnet Eaters? Never mind… it’ll catch on, you’ll see.
I’ll make sure of it.
Laini Taylor did it with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Cynthia Hand kind of did it with Unearthly and Ms Bardugo has done it with Shadow and Bone.
I love it when authors make me look stupid. It gives me faith that YA authors are just as bored with the stale clichés as we readers are.
Anyway, let’s talk about the book.
I’ve not really been doing a lot of reading recently so I read this one over about four days which is almost double the time it takes me to read a book. Normally that would be a sign that I hated it, but I really wasn’t. I kept finding myself wondering what the characters were getting up to, wondering whether I could just sneak away and read a few chapters.
This book is incredibly addictive and I would like the next one please.
About a week ago.
Anyway, let’s talk about the setting.
I have to admit I did get a little confused while I read this. I got all these names and places thrown at me and I couldn’t fit them together or make sense of them. This is probably just me because I get confused easily but I did get there eventually. Even though I got a bit lost, you could tell that Ms Bardugo always knew what was going on. She had thought of everything about the world she created but she never hammered you over the head with it.
Maybe when I read fantasy/paranormal/books that aren’t set in the street I live on, I need to be hammered.
Over the head with detail… not like drunk, I can’t imagine that would help very much at all.
But yeah, I really loved the setting. It was different and unique without being smug and too clever. I’m really excited to see where else Ms B takes us within this series and exploring what lies within the shadows.
Anyway, let’s talk about Alina.
Yes. Alina was a great narrator and a wonderful character. Just the right mixture of strength and determination and “Oh my god, what the eff am I supposed to do now?!”
I always wonder why heroines who have been told that they are the only chance to save the world just take it in their stride as if it’s the most regular thing in the entire world. How? Talk about pressure.
But Alina had the right amount of moments where she just wants to crawl under some furs and wait until it all blows over [which is what most of us do, admit it….] but when she wants to fight and be generally brilliant she does and it’s awesome.
I loved her and I want to have a sleepover with her and Genya. Fantastic.
Anyway, let’s talk about Mal.
Oh yes, Mal. I think I love you. I love that you’re a bit of a lad. You’re a bit of a one who tumbles with girls and drinks and is cheeky and is flirty but is also a rugged mountain man and is protective without being a douche.
I know this book is not exactly the most realistic book in the world (unfortunately) but the characters felt real. The characters talked, bantered and acted like teenagers. Or well, you know… teenagers who live in a horrifying world with magic and evil people who could kill you with the wave of their hand. Literally.
Anyway, let’s talk about me and Mal.
One of my greatest fears in life is that one day I will discover I have magical powers and I’ll be expected to save the world and no one will love me. This is why Mal is the perfect boy for me.
Then again, I also hate clowns and boats when they’re out of the water but I bet Mal could deal with them too.
He’d definitely get my last Rolo.
And finally, let’s talk about those clothes.
YES. I would like a kefta [and yes I did keep thinking about Moroccan food throughout this whole book, but that’s not really a new thing.] in any colour….. except black.
I’m guessing this story is going to be a trilogy and I have to admit I do have some concerns [looking at you man with the storm coloured eyes and your inexplicable-ness and you Miss Alina with your betraying heart] but I have two more bonnets lined up and I can’t wait to be proven wrong and look even more foolish than I already do.
Also, kind of randomly, this book is going to be called The Gathering Dark in the UK and I think I love that more than Shadow and Bone. It makes more sense to the story… but I prefer the cover of S&B. DILEMMA.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.