Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

You may find yourself here because you’re thinking about watching the Netflix adaptation of the hit young-adult fantasy series Shadow and Bone – that’s fine! You may also be here simply because you wanted to read the book and want an idea of whether it’s any good or not – that’s also fine.

Shadow and Bone review

Shadow and Bone features a main character called Alina realising she has abilities at the same time that the rest of the world does. She also finds out that this power could well save the world from something called The Shadow Fold. To add to all of this, Alina has to deal with two men in her life whom she doesn’t know which to trust and which to love.

Plot – 4/5

The plot of this book is, without a doubt, its strongest aspect. It’s a unique premise that I think is handled very well. In short: the world of Ravka is tormented by this large expanse of land called The Shadow Fold which is essentially a very foggy area in which evil creatures live that will almost certainly kill you. It makes trade, communication and alliances near impossible between different civilisations. When poor little map-maker Alina comes along with the power to rid the world of The Shadow Fold, it excites many across the land.

Now, this sounds like a fairly thin premise for a book and I must admit, there’s not a whole lot else that happens other than the summarised plot above. However, this unique concept is just enough to keep you going. Embroiled in this overarching plot is quite a unique love story between Alina, The Darkling – the leader of the Grisha – and Mal – Alina’s childhood sweetheart. This adds another dimension to the story that keeps you turning the pages.

Characters – 3/5

I must admit, the characters within this book aren’t those that you’ll fall in love with. I often seek one or two characters who bring the comedy or the passion or the clumsiness – however, the majority of these characters in this book are relatively one-dimensional. Alina herself seems quite serious, if not a little overwhelming by everything and the supporting characters all seem to have one goal and that’s mostly all they talk about. However Alina does meet someone who goes on to be her closest companion who I was quite keen on – she makes Alina feel more comfortable in an atmosphere that constantly seems quite tense. But I must say, I think the Netflix series does a better job of giving these characters a bit more personality than the book does, unfortunately. Though, I can’t bash them too much – I never felt like I didn’t understand the characters and you learn just enough about the main ones to care.

Shadow and Bone book summary – 4/5

I read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo twice. Once a couple of years ago and another time quite recently. The first time I read it, I rated it three stars as I simply wasn’t impressed with the cliche love triangle, thin plot and lack of interesting characters. Upon my second reading, I appreciated the unique and actually quite deep world, I concentrated more on studying the character’s depths and I tried to swallow my likely unfair dislike of love triangles in young-adult fiction.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who’s watched the TV series and anyone else who hasn’t I’m hoping to read the book and enjoy it more as I feel like, based on other people’s opinions anyway, this series has a lot to give. There is also a spin-off series that feature some great new characters whom I believe are in the first series of the Netflix series. Read more of my reviews here.


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