Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Recieved: bought
Publication Date: June 5th 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
POV: 1st person & female
Pacing: inbetween fast and slow
Genres & Themes: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Adventure, Friendship.


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.


I loved it from page one. One incredible journey.


What a fantastic story.

I’m going to tell you guys something: My first ever read in English was Throne of Glass and that was last September. I thought, with my knowledge of the English language (at that time) that picking a 400 page book up as a first read in English was going to work out well for me. ‘‘Piece of cake,’’ was what I told myself.

Well, not exactly…

I struggled with that book because of how the writing was, in my opinion, complex and all those new terms that I’ve never seen or heard of before. I literally had a dictionary next to me and searched through it one or two times per new page turned. So, yeah, I did not have a great experience even if I ended up enjoyed the book. It in fact took me three weeks to read it when, you all know, I now finish a book in 1, 2 or 3 days—exceptions apply. I was reading so slowly. SO slowly.

The point is… I did know about Shadow and Bone at that time as well but was very afraid of not rightly comprehending the world-building since it seemed to me very complex, just by reading the blurb. Yesterday, though, I finally felt like starting it, even if in my interior I was wondering if I was truly ready and going to understand it well.

Turns out I didn’t have to worry and knowing that I imporved my English so much in only a year makes me so happy. But, also, Leigh Bardugo did a great job introducing it to us along with its elements and I hope she will surprise us with many other new things related to the world-building in the sequels because it is amazing. AMAZING.

Alina is the kind of main character I love reading about in a fantasy book. Yes, she could have been more fierce, strong and clever, but was is wonderful still and her vulnerable part actually made me connect with her and relate to her more than I usually do with main characters. I enjoyed seeing her character development and, when she felt sad, I surprisingly felt her feelings too. That’s how much I sympathized and was invested in her story.

Mal…he is charming and I couldn’t resist him. The kind of relationship he and Alina have is unique and true and definitely beautiful.

‘‘Just you and me,’’ Mal said.
‘‘It’s always just you and me, Alina.’’

They were meant for each other.


Although, as much as I may have loved Mal, I did have a perference for the mysterious and dangerous Darkling.


He did not turn out to be as lethal as I would have liked…but he is a fantastic villain still and I am dying to read more about him in the sequels.

The writing was excellent and I’m definitely applauding the author in my mind. She is one talented author of whom I will read every work, that is for sure.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? If you haven’t, then, believe me, it is one you will want to read. The fantasy fan in you, if this applies to you, will find himself/herself in admiration with this unique world and well-developped characters.

Art source.

My review on Goodreads.

80 thoughts on “Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

  1. I’ve seen a couple really rave reviews for this one. I cannot imagine trying to read in another language for fun. Whew! I had to read books in Spanish back in high school since I did AP Lit but that about did me in some days. Maybe if I’d liked the books though. Hmmm. Glad to see this one was easier for you than your first go about!


    • Oh lol, I learned English all my life, since kindergarden but I never actually read a book and learning English at school we both know it’s not going to make us experts. I did enjoy Throne of Glass so that made it A LITTLE bit less painful. Although now I’m fine and able to read even 500 page books 😀


  2. I am so happy that you actually enjoyed this more than I did, Lola. I read it last year with very high expectations but well, it turned out meh for me. I did not like Alina and Mal. I am so sorry but I really don’t like them. The Darkling though was awesome. 😀 Not so sure when I’m going to pick up the next book. I’m getting more and more discouraged because I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews for book 3. T_T

    But anyway, fab review, Lola! 😀


  3. I haven’t read this one yet, Lola. Of course, it’s on my humongous TBR mountain, but who knows when I’ll get to it 😉

    Probably, reading in English has also helped improve your English skills. And writing reviews in English is great, too, because the more you write, the better you get at it 🙂

    Have a fantastic week, and happy reading Lola.


  4. Umm…well…akward…I am like the only person in the entire world who didn’t rate this 5 stars, but I am glad to hear you liked it so much regardless! I completely agree that Alina is such a strong, wonderful protagonist and that she truly helps carry the story. While the love triangle isn’t my preference, I’d definitely say it’s one of the better love triangles in YA, so I’ll give it points for that, right? 😉 Both Mal and The Darkling (<3) have such great characterizations and personalities and bring out totally different aspects in Alina, which makes it so interesting.

    Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review!

    P.S. WOW! You’re able to read a 400 page book in a foreign language after only a year of practice? THAT’S AMAZING!


    • Of course you’re not, girlie! I completely agree!! At first I was like…this can’t possibly be a love-triangle since it is so good, you know? And that is said by someone who doesn’t hate love-triangles.

      Thank you!!

      Haha, no what I meant is that I had knowledge in English before and thought was ready to read a 400 page book but was wrong and now after a year of reading in English I really don’t mind it anymore. 🙂


  5. WOOOHOO! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this, girly <333

    How fab was that world-building, right?

    And The Darkling. Wow. He's character growth is going to be a real interesting one. I'm sure you'll be hooked on it!

    Brilliant review, Lola! I can't wait for you to devour the next two. Hope you enjoy them, girl! <33 xox


  6. Congrats on all of the progress you’ve made in English over the course of only one year! Now I must meet this Darkling that you speak so highly of because I do enjoy a good villain, although I can’t make any promises, I might end up being Team Mal. Hehe I’m just about due for a Fantasy read, so I’ll definitely keep this one in mind before I pick my next book.


  7. Ahh I’m so happy you loved this one! I’m also completely jealous that your reading the series now and can just binge read it all at once (I had to wait months for each individual book *cries*) LOL!


  8. Oh yay! I’m glad you enyoyed it 😀 I didn’t rate it 5 stars (but I did it’s sequel) but I REALLY enyoyed it. I loved how it’s such an easy fantasy to get into and not the complex one (that I love as well…but still :P). Sadly the last book was disappointing to me but I hope you love it *fingers crossed for you*.


  9. YAY LOLA!!!! I’m so glad you loved this one too! I adored it, especially the Darkling, and it’s definitely a series that’s sitting on my shelf of favorites. And I’m crazy impressed at how quickly you picked up the nuances of the English language from Throne of Glass to this one, I would open a book written in another language and just sort of blink stupidly at it. Fail.


      • Haha, but it is fantasy based in a Russian setting so you think she’d at least get some of it right, but I’m here to tell you it was ALL wrong. It actually offended some of my Russian friends… eek! But since I am not Russian it didn’t offend me as much as it made me LOL, xD. But I see what you’re saying. I guess I just couldn’t let it fly by since I was like, “WTF YOU CAN’T GET DRUNK OF KVAS” the entire time. XDDD

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I really really need to try this book! I keep hearing amazing things about it and I confess that I’m really curious to discover the story, the characters and the world. I’m happy you had a wonderful time with it.


  11. Fantasy books are such a pain to read if you don’t speak the language natively. I’ve tried in French and it’s….a lot. O.O But congrats on improving your language skills! 🙂

    Also, I know I’m by myself on this one, but I’m totally Team Darkling. I just…love him!

    Amber Elise @Du Livre


  12. I loved Shadow and Bone and am so glad you enjoyed it. I feel like I’m the only person who didn’t care for the Darkling. I just didn’t like him. He’s actually the reason I’ve put off reading the sequels, because I really don’t know if I can take another ill-fated love triangle. I’ll have to wait and see what you think of them, because I’d like to finish this series, but I’m just nervous about it.


  13. Glad you enjoyed this one Lola 🙂 I’ve been on the fence about this one for some time, but I think your review convinced me to give it a try!


  14. I am so glad you loved this book so much! I’ve been hesitant to read it because I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy sometimes, but you totally convinced me! Mal sounds sweet and the romance sounds so adorable!

    If I had money, I would totally buy a copy ASAP. Might be able to get my hands on it next week! Awesome review!


  15. Good job with your English, as someone who has tried (and failed) for years to learn another language I applaud you! I loved this book! The world, the powers, and the characters were all great! (Oddly I found Alina and Mal just okay, but that’s me.) I’m glad that you liked it. Are you going to read book two now? I thought it was as good as one, which isn’t always the case with a sequel.


  16. Fantastic review, Lola! I’m so glad you loved this one. I recently bought the first two books in the trilogy, and I’m so excited to read them! Hopefully I’ll be able to get to them soon. 🙂


  17. You have just started one of my FAVORITE. SERIES. EVER. You think the first book is good — well there are two more that are also FANTASTIC! (Sorry, I just can’t restrain myself when it comes to these books!)

    Alina is a really great MC, because she is vulnerable and strong, just like you said. And her character arc through the series is superb, you’ll love it. That my name is contained within hers isn’t too shabby either, haha.

    Mal is great and all, but then there is THE DARKLING. How can one compete? You’ll also love reading about him throughout the series, I can guarantee you.

    It’s so impressive that you’re reading so fast and so much in a foreign language! I read a lot of upper level Spanish literature for my classes and I sympathize with your dictionary woes. I guess I’ve never tried reading a YA book in Spanish, though, and I don’t know why. You’ve inspired me! 😀

    Would you mind my asking what your first language is? I’m dying to know! Hit me up on Twitter if you wanna chat! @everybookaworld


    • Have I not added you on Twitter??? I will, if I did not. 🙂

      Aww, I’m glad you love this series so much!

      Thank you 😀 it was hard reading in English at first but now it’s very okay; got used to it!

      I did 2 years of English but, like you, never tried reading a book. But I did watch the movie Up in Spanish ahah. Did not understand much. 😛

      My first language is Romanian! 🙂 and my second French and then English. 😛 I don’t count Spanish coz I’m really a beginner.


  18. I love the sound of this book!! I think I love complex world-building the most, and when there’s some romance thrown in the mix I go all giddy with joy. It sort of has an ‘Attack on Titan’ feel to it (don’t know if you’ve read or watched that) with the flesh-eating monsters and one character holding the key to survival. I’m adding it to my tbr! Glad you enjoyed it and as always, wonderful review 🙂


  19. Lovely review! This one has been on my list & I keep seeing such great reviews for it! Must read it soon! Also, I’m so impressed by your English reading progress! That’s awesome! 🙂


  20. Gosh! A 5 star and a very intriguing plot I’m looking forward to read. Thanks for the review Lola. I love that sketch btw. Did you draw that? Awesome!


  21. I actually really didn’t like Mal. I don’t know what it is about him but he just rubs me the wrong way. But I have such a crush on the Darkling. I remember getting swept away by this book too and I don’t even like fantasy. I can’t wait for you to read the rest of the series!!!


  22. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one Lola!! I was really impressed with this one as well. I like Alina because she’s not as fierce and badass and awesome as some other protagonists yet she’s smart and kind. I feel that too often protagonists are built up to be invincible and wonderful and amazing all the time, I like seeing some character variance. Lovely review hon!! I think writing reviews and reading is a great way to improve one’s language learning 😉 You pretty much speak like a natural so yay!!



    I still need to read Siege and Storm, but I definitely loved Shadow and Bone as well! I just need to motivate myself to continue on with the series! (this is just a problem i have haha)


  24. I’m soooo happy to hear you enjoyed this one! The Grisha Trilogy is probably the series I’m most obsessed with right now, just wait ’till you read Siege and Storm, it’s even better!!


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