Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Release Date – May 17, 2013 
Publisher Website -  Raincoast Books Canada
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages -  356 pages
My Rating- 3.5/5
**Borrowed from fellow blogger**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
Darkness and light come together to create a perfect blend of grey. Shadow and Bone exists in such a colour. It’s characters are a mix of both heroic and villainous behaviour and even the brightest light can be tempted by the darkness.

This novel wavered between a 3.5 and 4 for me. I was captivated by the magical aspect of it, the darkness that haunts the pages, and it’s set up for future installments. However, I found the novel moved a little slowly. It crept along and it made the pacing feel off. The ending was rapid and filled with reveals, game changing moments, and what I had been hoping for the rest of the novel. I left me intrigued for what is to come.

Alina fascinated me. She's strong, much stronger than she gives herself credit for, and yet so unsure. She is thrust into a world she never expected to be part of from her humble orphan origins. I liked that she wasn't sure where she fit in, and what her power may mean. She grows, and becomes more self reliant as the story goes on and yet, her character never becomes something unexpected. Often characters who start out average and have this great purpose instilled upon them change and become different characters. Some hard lessons are learned, and it does change her character in ways I am hoping will be fully explored in any sequels, but she is still manages to remain Alina.

The Darkling loomed over everything. I had heard so much hype about him, and how I was going to fall in love with him…well….perhaps it was a case of over hype because that didn't happen. I disliked him immensely. He was nice enough to Alina, at first, and when it suited his needs. I am pretty sure the ending decimates any and all goodwill he may have earned. He may be charismatic, but darkness surrounds everything he does. I can see where he is a perhaps a compelling villain, but he is totally someone I love to dislike.

Mal is a true and loyal friend. The type of friend who you fall in love with even it it means loving from afar. It’s obvious why Alina wants something more than friendship from him. Their bond is something that is built due to shared experiences, and relying on each other from a young age. It’s believable that they would form a strong attachment to each other. 

The fantasy elements are quite well done. The way darkness is in every aspect of the novel from the Darkling, to the Shadow Fold leaves a lingering eeriness. Every single person in the story has been touched by darkness. It's interesting that light plays an equally large part in the story, and it creates a hope that it can chase away the darkness, even if things seem bleak.

Nothing is more terrifying than a character doing something evil for what they consider righteous reasons. The novel looks at what someone will do for power, and how that power can corrupt something that started out in good intentions. It’s all in the way you view something, and someone whose been driven to darkness can take things to the extreme, as they say absolute power can corrupt absolutely. 

I enjoyed this novel, but found myself not as immersed as I wanted to be. I know that there will be those who love it (and there are) and it is certainly an engaging story. I think this was a case of me going in with too high expectations. A fine debut that teases the darkness in all of us, and one that certainly has me interested in seeing where the next novel leads.

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