Book Review – Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve been wanting to write up this review for months, but I legitimately don’t know how. So I thought I’d throw the whole trilogy in with another series I don’t really know how to review (the Throne of Glass series) and do an 8 day messy review holiday extravaganza! So that starts today and goes until the 22nd. Should be tons of fun for everyone (unless you disagree with my reviews, I guess, then it might not be great for you.) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The first book in the original Grisha trilogy is Shadow and Bone, which starts with a march toward the terrifying Shadow Fold. Both Alina (our narrator) and Mal are part of the Ravkan army, and have to cross the Shadow Fold to get to the other side, where the sea port is. Alina has always had feelings for Mal, and while he’s always been her best friend, she’s never been anything more to him. While they are crossing the fold, they are attacked by vicious creatures and Mal is seriously wounded, basically left for dead. Something unleashes inside Alina, a power that she didn’t know she had, and she is able to save Mal’s life. But that power is dangerous, and no one has seen anything like it before.

Alina is swept away by the Darkling to be trained along with the magical elite – the Grisha – at the palace, leaving Mal without saying a word. In the process of training, she and the Darkling’s relationship becomes messy and unclear, and Alina starts to question her feelings for Mal. She misses him… but maybe he never understood her at all?

This is just the beginning of a revolution that has been due for generations, and Alina is at the center of it all, along with the Darkling.

That’s a pretty terrible synopsis, but so much happens in this one! Blah. I hope I didn’t give too much away! (Spoilers are likely ahead, so go read the book if you haven’t already, good grief!)

shadow+bone new

3 Things I Loved

  1. The Grishaverse. This world that Leigh Bardugo created is so full and well-developed and glorious. I’m so happy there are more books in this world for me to devour once I stop torturing myself and just read them. I’m trying to savor them all, but that’s silly. I should really stop.
  2. The power. Again, it’s so well-developed! I love it. I live for more books about it.
  3. Alina and Mal. I know that a lot of people hate Mal (more on that in the other books) but I rather like him for Alina. I’ve always rooted for the underdog, and in this book, he’s definitely the underdog. And when he tracks her down in the woods? When he deserts his unit, knowing they’d probably kill him when they found him – all for her? OMG. My swoony heart was sold.

Dislikes/Problematic Content

I’ve seen Leigh speak a couple times now, and she has admitted that this universe is very straight and very white, but that she started feeling more comfortable diversifying as she read more and built more of a fan base. I understand learning and growing, and I can get behind that. The Grishaverse becomes this lush place as the books go on, and as the following books that take place there occur, and I’m happy for that.

But this book? Very straight and very white (or white-reading, at least).


  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good! 
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!

So here’s the thing. I have no idea how to rate this book, especially now that I’ve read the whole trilogy. It’s part of why I’ve been putting this off for so long. But I’ve been thinking about it all morning, and I think this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to give Shadow and Bone a GREEN rating. That means it’s really good, but in comparison to some of the later books in the trilogy, it’s not as great as I felt it was when I first rated it on Goodreads. So yeah! Green it is. Green is a solid rating!

Stay tuned for Siege and Storm tomorrow!

Happy reading,


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