The Grisha Trilogy, Book 1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
eGalley Acquired from: Holt Books for Young Readers via NetGalley
Description 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 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.
First Sentence: "The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke's house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches."
Guys, this book was hyped up like WHOA. Whenever that happens, I make sure to put on my skeptical hat, because usually the book ends up being all kinds of disappointing. Not so Shadow and Bone. Leigh Bardugo, you are officially a badass. This book was completely amazing. I would have read it in a matter of hours, had I not been at BEA. Oh, and, I spent some time with the folks at Macmillan, and both of the people I talked to said that this was by far their favorite book of the season, so yeah.
I love epic fantasy and I also love Russian things. While not set in the real Russia, Shadow and Bone's setting is very Russia-like. The country is Ravka. The fantasy elements are incredibly cool, with the Grisha powers ranking almost Cashore level of original (which is as high as it gets). The Shadow Fold and the volcra, too, are so creepy and fascinating.
Speaking of creepy and fascinating, I have to talk about the Darkling. From the first scene where he appeared, he totally captured me, even though I was pretty sure he was a terrible guy. Seriously, he is like majorly alluring. I don't know whether I should root for him or not, because he's got this whole evil dictator vibe, but also seems like he might be better deep down. I don't usually go for bad boys (although that seems a bit mild for the Darkling), but wow.
Of course, he's not the only man candy in this book. Yes, there is a love triangle, but I declare myself okay with this one, so no worries. The other guy is Mal, Alina's childhood friend, who she's been hopelessly in love with for ages. I have to say that I was pretty much immediately into him as well, mostly because his name is Mal. In my head, I see Malcolm Reynolds, so he has to be awesome.
Alina starts out pretty weak, although still with some serious gumption. It was an utter pleasure watching her grow and discover herself. I also really liked the way she changed as she came into her powers. Bardugo has written such a wonderful metaphor for what subverting your real self does to you. By the end of the book, Alina is a definite heroine.
What I hate about this book is knowing how long I probably have to wait for more! The ending of Shadow and Bone isn't a cliffhanger, but there's still tons that needs to be resolved and waiting is going to be painful. I need to procure a copy of this for myself, and so do you!
I threw up my hands in exasperation. "Stop him from doing what?"
"Using the Fold as a weapon."
"I see," I said. "Does he also plan to build a summer home there?"