Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
“There is something more powerful than any army. Something strong enough to topple kings, and even Darklings. Do you know what that thing is?”
I shook my head, inching away from him.
“Faith,” he breathed, his black eyes wild. “Faith.”
I’m going to have to swing with the majority on this one: Six of Crows is considerably better than Shadow and Bone. Six of Crows is what Leigh Bardugo’s skills look like on full volume; Shadow and Bone feels like it’s been cut by half.
That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable – it is. As a matter of fact, I had a hard time putting it down. The hours just ate away the moment I sat down, and I became absorbed, turning page after page. The story is weak at points, faltering towards the middle before picking up again towards the end, but damn is it entertaining.
The story goes that Alina, an orphan and a soldier in the First Army, suddenly finds out that she is a Grisha, who are ‘Masters of the Small Science’. She’s not just any Grisha, either – she is the Sun Summoner, an Etherealki that can harness the power of sunlight and use it as a weapon. The Darkling, who rules the Grisha and is the second-most powerful man in Ravka, sweeps her back to the Little Palace in order to help her build her strength, hoping to use her powers to destroy the Shadow Fold: a slate of darkness and decay that’s divided the country and doesn’t let many come out alive.
The middle lagged a bit. It was full of training, pretty outfits, and Alina fawning over the Darkling. Their chemistry is pretty flat. Even if the Darkling is deceptive, their should have been a better build-up in their relationship to show Alina’s attraction to him. The best villains, after all, make us consider our moral compass. We despise them, yet we are inexplicably drawn to them at the same time. (Like Loki. Or Ulquoirra. Or, I don’t know…Darth Vader.) The Darkling doesn’t have that pull. I can see where the inspiration for Kaz Brekker came from, but I’m not as taken to the Darkling as I am with him.
He slumped back in his chair. “Fine,” he said with a weary shrug. “Make me your villain.”
Though to be fair, I doubt anyone could match up to Kaz.
I also wish that the world-building was done a little better. Six of Crows was intricate and defined, but Shadow and Bone doesn’t have that same depth. Between the landscape and the war with other countries – vaguely explained, even though it’s been going on for a hundred years – I hardly know what this world looks like. Secondly, the Grisha powers are not very well explained. I’d already read about them, but it wasn’t easy for me to get settled back into the Grisha Universe.
I’m giving this book a hard time, but really, I did enjoy it. I liked the idea of the Shadow Fold and its more literal representation of fear of the dark, Alina’s friendship with Genya, and the different orders of Grisha. I especially loved the twist, though honestly, I figured the Darkling was up to something. It opens up for a fantastic sequel that I will definitely be reading, but before or after Crooked Kingdom, I don’t know. I guess I’m excited for both.