(The Grisha Trilogy #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Expected publication: June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: June 5th 2012
Format: eARC, 368 pages
After blogging for a while you start to learn not to expect much from books that create a lot of fuss and receive tons of 5 star ratings (In my case, much like The Immortal Rules and Everneath did before publication).
So, when I saw over 150 5 star ratings for Shadow and Bone on Goodreads I was a bit afraid of what I'd think of it...
What I came up with was:
Oh. Dear. Lawd.
That was the best book I've read in loooong while! Definitely the best I've read this year, for sure! (This is the 99th book I have read in 2012).
I know I haven't been especially eloquent so far, but that's what usually happens when you enjoy a book this much. You love it so, SO much you can't even put it into words.
But let's try expressing it with images:
These can be translated as:
"This is so freaking awesome!" *-*,
"NO, I can't be that close to the ending already! I only just started it! Where did the time go???" :((
Okay, enough nonsense. For now.
* I was lucky enough to receive an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
First line: "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."
Last line: (too spoilery).
Favorite quote: "I'd catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I'd seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I'd realize that you weren't there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me."
Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev were both orphans that grew up together at a nice Duke's orphanage. When they were old enough, they left to train for their military service. Alina as a cartographer and Mal as a tracker. But their regiment had to first cross the Shadow Fold before they could get to the Sea.
Alina is completely in love with her childhood friend, but Mal hardly even seems to notice her anymore. He has become very handsome and popular with girls, and Alina... well, she's become taller, but still looks like she did as a child. Skinny, pale and ghost-like.
Along for the ride to the Shadow Fold are the Grisha, practitioners of the 'Small Science'. They are people who have special powers and are treated like royalty. They are also very attractive.
As soon as they get to the Fold and darkness engulfs them, the volcra attack. They are horrendous beasts with a thirst for human flesh. The Grisha and the soldiers try to attack them as best they can, but there are still many casualties.
When a volcra gets too close to Alina, Mal rushes over to protect her, receiving a very serious injury to the chest. Alina throws herself over him to try and shield him from the volcra hovering close by, but when the volcra reaches for her, Alina feels something inside her shift and then suddenly there is light. Brilliant, magnificent light all around them. And the volcra can't fly away fast enough. Alina passes out.
The minute she comes to she knows something is wrong. First of all, there are rifles pointed to her head. People are looking at her strangely. And the Darkling, the most powerful and oldest Grisha around wants to see her. He claims that she is a Sun Summoner. And the only hope to end the wars and destroy the Fold. No pressure, right?
Alina can't wrap her head around being Grisha. She is nothing like them! They're beautiful, she's not. They have been studying the 'Grisha ways' ever since they were 5-years-old, and she hasn't. But most importantly... she is one of a kind. Just like the Darkling.
Now Alina has to learn how to control how powers and pay very close attention to the people around her. Are they friend or foe? Should she trust them? Shouls she believe everything they say? Should she allow herself to fall for one of them? And, is Mal still alive? Does he hate her now? Does she care?
Oh, man. Now that was a good read.
Don't you just love it when nothing is as you first expected? Leigh Bardugo is a complete genius! Her writing is enrapturing, her characters captivating, and the plot is absolutely mind-boggling! There is NEVER a boring moment. NEVER, I say!!! (Okay, I'll go easy with the iltalics and bolds from now on, I promise). When you finally start to get things (especially the russian vocab) and like certain characters... BAM! They slap you in the face with betrayal! (Alina's face, I mean.). :P
And as you get closer to the end, you have to control yourself not to blow up from all the tension. Or pluck all your hair off. Or scream with frustration. Oh, and no matter how intense things get, you have to remember to blink. (I had to apply teardrops more times than I can count, simply because I just wanted to take everything in as fast as I could, and all the blinking was totally slowing me down. LOL.).
Really, the only thing I still have to say to you is: Go ahead and pre-order this baby right now! You will not regret it. :)
If you enjoy great books with tons of adventure, fantasy magic AND sweet romance, then the odds are: you'll go bananas over Shadow and Bone, just like I did.