In the very first Grishaverse book, an intriguing magic system falls flat in the face of uninspired plot and consistently bland choices. Stay tuned, though—literally all the other Grishaverse books are better. The curse of the first book, maybe? (I’m looking at you, Sarah J. Maas.)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA, Romance, Fiction

Link to Goodreads: link

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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.

Too much to compare to?

Shadow and Bone was very underwhelming. Or maybe just very straightforward?

I liked the twist (is that what it was?) but since Bardugo had to, you know, set it up, the first half just feels a little clunky. I had a very hard time connecting to Alina (wow I read this book a week ago and already almost forgot her name…)

In general, it bleeds into all the other YA I’ve read. The magic system isn’t quite unique enough (yet), and the blackness or whatever it’s called wasn’t that interesting. I read Six of Crows before this series, and it is leagues better.

What would have made it better for me?

A more fleshed-out setting, actually. Usually, I don’t mind if a novel is very focused on character, but Alina is so passive and reactionary and downright young in this novel that an interesting world around her could have brought the novel to life—Night Circus or Cruel Prince style. But even the interactions are kind of bland and straightforward.

I read this in advance of the Netflix show, and I’ll say this: it’s such a perfect replica of the YA Fantasy template that I think it will have good payoff and translate well to the small screen.

I know this isn’t a long review because well I gave it 1/5 stars….I’m definitely curious to know what everyone else thought about this book.

p.s. I enjoyed the sequels considerably more, and I’m not always this mean! Stay tuned & follow the blog if you’re curious what kind of YA Fantasy I rave about. If you liked Shadow and Bone, you have no idea what kind of joys abound.


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