Review of Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) By Leigh Bardugo
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowlydestroying 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?
It seems like every YA high fantasy book I’ve read in the past couple of years has been bogged down with romance– save The Shattered Sea trilogy which I can highly recommend – It’s gritty, action packed, violent, exactly what epic fantasy should be.
Shadow and Bone is no different. The plot is too wrapped up in romance and the rest of the novel suffers for it. Bardugo has created an interesting world. It reminded me of something from a Guillermo Del Toro movie. Cold, harsh, populated by a growing darkness and weird creatures… But Bardugo spends too much time developing romance, and a solid plot is sacrificed. Some readers probably won’t mind. But I wanted more of the action that the beginning and ending of the novel delivered.
The opening is good. The middle made me consider skipping pages. Another thing YA books seem to include a lot of is descriptions of clothes and ‘makeovers’. I don’t want to read about that–not when the stakes of the main plot and the villains agenda is world-altering.
After a slow middle, the pace picks up again when the heroine has to go on a quest. The quest plot-line might not be original, but it guarantees pace and action. Bardugo’s cold, harsh world is the kind of fantasy world I like to read about. The kind Abercrombie and George R. R. Martin have in their books.
The characters are decently developed, though they will probably be developed more in the sequels–as will the world-building, which was a little vague and at times confusing.
The writing style is similar to Sarah J. Maas’s, author of Throne of Glass. Atmospheric descriptions, nice balance of description.
Shadow and Bone is a decent balance of original and influenced-by-other-fantasy-books-and-movies. The pace is fast in the beginning, slow in the middle, fast again for the ending. The set up is promising for the sequels, which I hope will focus more on the main plot arc than on romance.