Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 4 Stars
I have had a copy of Shadow and Bone since it came out in paperback. Which is a crazy long time. And not once did I bother to pick it up to even try the first page. I would glance at it on my shelf, think how pretty it looked, and then say I would get to it later. Well, the fates aligned and I picked it up completely on a whim. I had no inclination of starting this book for a while still, but after all but deciding I would go to Book Con and seeing the author would be there, and also waiting for a book to arrive in the mail, I couldn't stop myself. And do you know how fast I read this one? 24 hours. Right after Cress. So, yeah, it was crazy addicting, and I'm so glad to have been bitten by the reading bug again.
Shadow and Bone takes place in a fantasy world based off of Russia. It follows Alina, a mapmaker for the First Army. When she and her regiment cross the Unsea, a dark place that exists because of twisted magic, she learns she is one of the Grisha- those who have magic (of a sort; it's called "Small Science"). And not just any Grisha, but a Sun Summoner. She's whisked off to court where she must learn to master her powers in order to save her world.
I will admit that this book started off slow. I wasn't completely sold until she arrived at court, around chapter six. It wasn't a bad story before then, but it was a bit cliched and the setting hadn't had time to cement itself. Once things got going, though, it was all I could do to put it down and go to sleep. I even managed to dream about this book in the hours between reading! The plot moves quickly, and there wasn't anything unnecessary. Every plot development advanced the story, and it could have been a trilogy all on its own, with the amount of things that happen.
The strongest aspect of the story is the setting. Gorgeous! And I mean it practically comes off the page. It's a subtle world-building that relies on a few phrases, people's general idea of a romantic version of historical Russia, and a taste of magic in the writing. Every once in a while I stumble into a book with a location I actually want to visit, and Ravka is one of those places.
As for the writing and characters, at first neither really stood out. Once the ball got rolling, though, neither disappointed. I look forward to continuing this series, and plan to pick up the rest of the trilogy very soon.