An amazing story filled with fantastic world building and dynamic characters. I’m still getting over the ending.
There’s so many things that I enjoyed about this story. I’ll first start with the world building. Shadow and Bone is inspired by Russia and its culture. I really enjoyed how unique this setting was. Everything from the clothing, food, architecture, and language had some inspiration from Russia, but the author still managed to make this story unique by also adding another layer of fantasy with the Grisha, the Darkling, the Small Sciences, the Fold, and the Unsea–it was all blended so seamlessly that it really felt like another world.
I also enjoyed the main character Alina. With a story like this, where the main character discovers some hidden power, the reader wants her to be bad ass right off the bat, but I appreciated that the author took the time to develop her character and really explore the reason why her power had been dormant for so long. Because Alina had been denying her powers, her true self, when she was forced to really look at herself and figure out why she couldn’t access her powers, Alina was able to grow and move past her mistakes. I also enjoyed other characters too, the Darkling, Mal, Genya, and even Bhagra and Botkin. I hope we get to see more of all of them in the later books.
One of the issues other readers seemed to have was the love triangle between Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. I don’t like love triangles because what ends up happening is that the main character becomes so preoocupied with her feelings that the plot suffers for it. I didn’t feel like that was the case with this story. Alina has always been in love with Mal and when they’re separated, she still hopes to see him, but she come to terms with the fact that she never will. It doesn’t mean her feelings are completely gone, but it does allow her to be more open to her attraction to the Darkling. I didn’t think it was forced or that Alina was fretting over who to be with. Because Alina thinks Mal no longer wants to stay in contact with her, we see how Alina figures out who she is. This probably sounds like a weak characterization, but it’s actually in character for her. Mal and Alina have known each other since they were seven years old. It’s reasonable for her character to have a hard time coming to terms with her relationship with Mal ending and being resistant, but intrigued by the Darkling. It would be unrealistic if Alina dismissed her relationship with Mal once she became a Grisha and instantly fell in love with the Darkling. I think I would not have liked her character if she had.
Another reason I liked this book was the story itself. It’s such a wonderful experience for a reader to read a book that has both a strong character, but also a fantastic story. I loved the twists with the Darkling, the necklace, and Alina seizing power at the end. I don’t want to go into more details, but these were plot turns in the story that were actually quite thrilling to read.
I would recommend this to readers who enjoy strong female heroines and a story full of adventure and fanastic world building. I would also recommend this for readers 13 years old and up. There’s no bad language and no sex (there is some kissing and heavy making out) and there are some descriptions of violence (references to blood and the Darkling has two scenes where they involve killing).