Shadow and Bone (2012) – Leigh Bardugo

My second foray into the Grishaverse was the first one written, Shadow and Bone. And much like Six of Crows, I got swept up pretty damned quick in the story and the characters, and can’t wait to continue to explore the rest of the realm that Bardugo created.

In this novel, we are introduced to Alina and Mal, two friends that serve in the First Army, and are preparing to cross the Shadow Fold, an unsea of darkness populated by winged monstrosities known as the vorca. When they are attacked, Alina’s latent ability (there are a number of elemental powers in this world, those who use them are known as Grisha, and they fall into a number of categories), to summon light saves her, Mal and a number of others.

Revealed now as a Grisha, Alina is summoned before the Darkling who plans to unite with her to help push back the Fold once and for all. She is taken to the Little Palace, a training school for Grisha, and Alina, now separated from her best friend, who she may be just a little in love with, finds herself in a whole new world.

Here she learns to use her powers, meets others, and realises how important, and unique her abilities are.

But there will be betrayals alongside her learning, there will be trials, love, hate, and more as the Darkling comes up with a plan to create an amplifier for her abilities, the horns of a mythical stag.

She makes friends, but who can be trusted when the truth is revealed. Even as she comes into her powers, her world is shaken, she is drawn to the Darkling, but longs for Mal, who has gone missing, and soon she will find herself on the run driven by the truth, and a need to stop the advance of darkness and what that means for her world.

I love how fully realised Bardugo’s made this world, and how authentic her characters feel. Despite the fantastical trappings of the realm she has created, her characters are, at their hearts, very human and driven by things all of us will recognise.

There’s a magic in these books, the characters, the stories, it’s so completely realised that it’s easy to bring the entire story to life in the theatre of the mind, and I honestly can’t wait to read the next in the series. I’ve been reading them as I get them from the library, but I’m honestly starting to feel like these are books I want to own. To have. To pore over the maps, and explore this world over and over again.

I can’t wait to dig into Siege and Storm! (Not to mention the second book in the Six of Crows duology, Crooked Kingdon).

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