Shadow and Bone totally blew my mind. I was already a little biased going into reading this novel. I went through a time where I may or may not have had an obsession with all things Russian (hot Russian boys especially) so that adorable little building on the cover and the subtle Russian undertones made for a perfect storm of liking.
The story follows Alina Starkov who is in the military with her childhood best friend Mal. Alina has never been good at anything, or special, she is just kind of a run of the mill orphan. Mal though has been doing pretty well for himself in the military and the two have been drifting apart. When a accident in the shadow fold reveals a power that Alina had no idea she had her entire world changes and she is thrown into a new set of circumstances with plenty of court intrigue, power plays, and a bit of romance.
The world building in Shadow and Bone was probably my favorite thing about the novel. The descriptions of the different types of Grisha (those who wield magical power), the shadow fold (where are the bad things live), and just the general atmosphere pulled me in right from the beginning. I also liked that although this is a big, complex, new world there weren’t really big information dumps and I never felt like I didn’t understand what was going on.
My other favorite thing was how much I came to like the characters. Alina was strong, vulnerable, and loyal. She was everything I look for in a good heroine and I liked that even when thrown into a completely new environment she remained herself and still cared so much for those around her. I also LOVED the Darkling, oh my, he was by far my favorite character! He was much deeper then I expected and all of the mystery surrounding him just added to how much I liked him.
The plot twists in this book definitely kept me on my toes and made it so I couldn’t put the book down. At first I was like ho-hum this book is formulaic and I am not impressed but then BAM everything changes and I was thoroughly impressed with where Bardugo took the story.
Overall, this was a great read and one of my favorites of 2012. I am not surprised that the movie rights have already been snapped up for it. I am now eagerly anticipating the sequel Siege and Storm, can a title get any cooler?! June of 2013 is MUCH too far away.