368 pages, hardcover
Available June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review
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.
Positive: The two guys, Mal and The Darkling. First off, let me put it out there that this is not a love triangle. I can't get into too much detail about it without giving away key plot points but trust me, it's no triangle (thank cheesus). Mal--an orphan fostered with Alina, Alina's very best friend in the whole world, and hot player extraordinaire (at least in his mind), Mal is a flawed character with a big heart. He's young, impulsive, and will do anything for his friends. The Darkling, on the other hand, is the embodiment of power and prestige, a man who knows what he wants and how to get it. He entrances Alina, gifting her with his knowledge and presence, making her feel special and needed--things she's never known.
Positive: The pacing. With fantasy, I need a solid combination of description, characterization, and a forward-moving plot to keep me firmly entrenched in the story. SHADOW AND BONE does just this, keeping the pace at a firm canter up until the breakneck gallop to the end.
Wish: That The Darkling had a name. Seriously, y'all. I really liked his character but I also kept expecting him to share his name with Alina (like a secret, to draw her farther into his confidence). As far as I could tell, names don't hold power in this world so why the hell doesn't this guy have a name? Did his mother not love him? Maybe all will be revealed in later books.
Overall: SHADOW AND BONE is a fantastic fantasy, something that is sorely lacking in the young adult world. More. I want more, I say! *bangs utensils on table, ready for the literary feast*