Girls in Capes

Women, men & minorities in geek culture and pop culture

REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (plus giveaway!)

shaodw_200Shadow and Bone, the first in The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, was supposed to be among the best titles to come out last year; and I have to say that I feel like it certainly delivers.

The story is set in a world that is reminiscent of Russia, but with a twist: Ravka, the country where Shadow and Bone is set, is divided in two by the Fold, a blanket of darkness that is swarming with flesh eating monsters. The female protagonist, Alina, is a soldier of the First Army and has been sent on a mission to cross the Fold to the other side. In the middle of the crossing, the flesh eating monsters attack her skiff and she uncovers a power that changes the course of her life. She is whisked away to become a member of the Grisha, an army of people who can use magic who is led by the Darkling, a powerful man feared by many. But nothing is what it seems and Alina soon discovers that there’s something strange going in Ravka.

Bardugo worked very well with the setting. The descriptions were colorful and lush, and I could imagine the world to the point where I felt familiar with it. The weather, the palaces, the woods, all of them became alive and were characters in their own merit.

But the element that I liked the most about this book was the actual characters. Alina is a striking protagonist. She doesn’t have much confidence in herself; she doesn’t think she’s lovely, and she doesn’t feel like she really belongs anywhere except with her childhood friend, Mal. But as the story progresses, Alina grows. She becomes beautiful by accepting her power, by accepting herself as she is and accepting that inner strength that had been lying dormant for so long. She struggles with being accepted, with finding a place where she belongs, and then realizes that she has exactly what she needs. By embracing who she is, what she is, Alina becomes strong. And this is such an important message not only for young readers, but for people in general. Alina struggles with things that many people struggle with as they grow up, as they go to college, as they go to work. And I find it so beautiful that this has been incorporated into this book and made part of its themes. It’s probably why I like this book so much.

But I’m gushing.

The rest of the characters also unravel and change over the book. Mal goes through a series of ups and downs. One of Alina’s close friends does so too. And the Darkling, who is such a questionable character, also changes. Bardugo makes sure that the motivations behind the actions of her characters are also presented. Eventually, it is understood why the characters do what they do. This helps in making them more complex and more engaging (I won’t delve more into this because I feel like I have given so much away!). But the fact remains that the characters’ decisions change and shape Ravka’s future.

I was blown away by Shadow and Bone. Perhaps the only thing that distracted me, and it was at the very beginning and barely noticeable, was that there was a bit more telling than showing. But I don’t know if I just dived into the story or if Bardugo worked with this, but it stopped distracting me around Chapter 3 or 4, and it was barely noticeable because the story, the characters and their voices are so well constructed that you might not notice it.

I love this book and I recommend it. I can’t wait for the second book, Siege and Storm.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Mara is the Young Adult Book Reviewer for Girls in Capes. She is working on an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction.

PS: I’m excited to announce that we have a hardcover copy of Shadow and Bone and we’re giving it away to a Girls in Capes fan! If you’re interested, you can find the giveaway here. This giveaway is restricted to our fans in the United States.  Make sure to comment here for an entry.

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About little_mswriter

I adore words. In fact, I believe they move the world (although I could say the same for thoughts). There's nothing than better than a good story. We can find them anywhere.

25 comments on “REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (plus giveaway!)

  1. Lauren Spieller
    April 26, 2013

    I absolutely loved S&B…I recommend it to friends and family all the time. My favorite aspect was the gorgeous world of the Little Palace. I wanted to run around the halls and discover all its secrets!

    • Feliza C.
      April 26, 2013

      I definitely agree about how gorgeous everything is. I liked Little Alina and Little Mal best.

    • little_mswriter
      April 26, 2013

      The Little Palace was such a beautifully described place. I loved the times when they were outside the most, like in the woods and such. I felt like I was walking with them, and I felt like I was outside and had an idea of what I would be looking at. Leigh Bardugo did a good job presenting the S&B world!

  2. Lauren Spieller
    April 26, 2013

    Oh, and as for role models? Someone who goes after their goals and stays true to themselves.

    • little_mswriter
      April 26, 2013

      I agree; it’s important to be yourself and pursue your dreams. Sometimes the world throws odd things at you, but it’s important to persevere!

  3. Bridget
    April 26, 2013

    I would say that a good role model Is someone who tries to do the right thing even when it’s hard. They also are happy with who they are even with all of their imperfections, but they never stop trying to improve themselves to be better.

    • little_mswriter
      April 26, 2013

      Yes, I think it’s important to always strive to be the best person you can be and to feel comfortable in your own skin. Sometimes, doing the right thing is so hard, but it’s important to stay true to oneself. Thank you!

  4. Hong
    April 26, 2013

    A good role model is one who keeps his/her promises of what they say they will do and they are committed to fulfill this. One who is honest and admits his/her wrongdoings instead of lying.

    • little_mswriter
      April 26, 2013

      Honesty is very important. It’s important to give value to one’s word because sometimes, others rely on it. Everyone makes mistakes and it’s so difficult to admit that one can be wrong, but it’s important to recognize that one is human and can hurt others by not recognizing this. Thank you!

  5. Katie
    April 26, 2013

    I loved Shadow and Bone. Not only is the world of Grisha so completely beautiful, but the story had everything: action, adventure, magic and romance. I love hearing other people say how much they love it and I wish more people would read it! It’s now one of my favorites!!!

    • little_mswriter
      April 26, 2013

      Yes, me too! I’m committed to make everyone read this book! It has a little bit of everything for everyone, and it’s such a striking world. I feel like I have to share my love, hahaha. It’s one of my favorites! Thank you for dropping by!

  6. Amairany Ra
    April 26, 2013

    A good model for me is someone someone who doesn’t change who he/she is to fit in the crowd, who tries to get better every day learning from mistakes. Someone who is able to find the bright side to the world. Someone who does not give up. Someone made of flesh and bone not fake intentions and lies.

    • little_mswriter
      April 26, 2013

      Yes, I think it’s important to want to better yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin. It’s something Alina struggles with in S&B! Thank you for stopping by!

  7. Aranza
    April 26, 2013

    A good model is someone who doesn´t change they way he/she is to fit in the crowd. Someone made of flesh and bone not lies and fake intentions. Someone who learns from his/her mistakes.

    • little_mswriter
      April 26, 2013

      Yes, it’s important to accept yourself and understand that it’s alright, that you don’t have to change so others like you and that you will find people who will like you for who you are. It’s also important to remember that we’re only human and that we make mistakes, and that every mistake has a lesson to teach. Thank you for commenting!

  8. Tamara
    April 27, 2013

    It think a good role model is someone who stands up for what they believe and tries to do the right thing even when it’s hard. It’s not someone who’s perfect but someone who learns for past mistakes and makes an effort to better themselves.

    • little_mswriter
      May 12, 2013

      Thank you for commenting and participating! I wholeheartedly agree; a role model is someone who continuously strives ti improve him/herself.

  9. Redhead
    May 4, 2013

    Sounds absolutely wonderful! great characterization, great world building, sounds like its got some well developed magic and world history too. Totally my kind of thing! Your review was wonderful! would you consider blurbing it on Bookstore Bookblogger Connection?

    • little_mswriter
      May 12, 2013

      So sorry for the late reply! I’m looking at your blog and am wondering, what do you need me to do? I have never blurbed anything before! This is a new experience for me, but I’d love to do that! What would you need me to do?

  10. Jennie
    May 9, 2013

    I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while. It really sounds like a great read! :D

    A good role model would be someone I can look up to. A hardworker who can surpass any obstacle that comes their way. I think a good role model is someone whose actions I can see and think “That person is amazing and I really look up to them. It’s someone that I want to strive to be like.”

    • little_mswriter
      May 12, 2013

      Thank you for commenting and participating! I really loved it! I do think you’ll enjoy it!

      I agree; someone who works hard to become better and to achieve his/her dreams is someone who is inspirational! I’ll see you in a few weeks!

  11. Daphne
    May 9, 2013

    Someone who can relate to others and take the right path even when it might be painful. Someone who goes out of their way to better the lives of other people and offer encouraging words to make someone feel better.

    • little_mswriter
      May 12, 2013

      I think that it’s really important that a role model can relate to others, like you say. It makes him/her grow as a person and becoming more understanding of others and the world. Thank you for commenting and participating!

  12. Christine
    May 9, 2013

    I see a role model as someone who is compassionate, and understanding. Someone that leads a life they’re proud of. Plus, they have a ability to influence people in the right ways.

    • little_mswriter
      May 12, 2013

      I agree; a role model needs to be connected with the world he/she lives in and extend a hand to those that surround him/her. Thank you for commenting and participating!

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