Book Review – Shadow and Bone

I started to listen to this series (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo in audiobook format (narr. Lauren Fortgang) after I started to watch the recent Netflix series encompassing the events of this first book, Shadow and Bone.

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Here is the blurb:

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.

The country of Ravka is loosely based on some Russian or Eastern European cultures and is a tough place to live for the average peasant. I think it is that aspect, together with the romance aspects that gave this story echoes of the Hunger Games.

However, this is very much a fantasy setting, with magic and monsters aplenty. Interestingly, this is also a world in which technology has advanced in spite of magic, even to the point where it starts to threaten those in power. I found this book very easy to follow and it sped to a satisfying conclusion. While the story isn’t complete in the first book, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger either.

The television show follows the book very closely, but mixes in events and characters from one of the author’s other series (which I have yet to read). Even if you haven’t read the books, you could watch the show without any spoilers for how the series ends.

Have you read Shadow and Bone or watched the show? Let me know in the comments.

Find more of my book reviews here.

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