Series: The Grisha #1
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt
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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.
Recc’d to me very enthusiastically by Amber and Judith. I obviously don’t learn from past mistakes >.>
Okay, so Shadow and Bone introduces us to a world in which specialised magic users, known as the Grisha, are not only the military elite but make up some of the highest social circles. Our main character, Alina Starkov, an ordinary cartographer in the army, is found through exceptional circumstances to possess the powers of a Grisha. She’s whisked off to a palace to be trained in the Grisha Arts, leaving her boring twit of a friend Mal behind. Also she falls in love with becomes dangerously attracted to my future husband The Darkling, who is so smoulderingly sexy it’s kind of a surprise the pages of the book didn’t just burn up tbh. The Darkling, apparently really old and powerful, sits at the head of the Grisha Army and in terms of political power is almost as influential as the King.
A large part of the book is focused on Alina’s time in the palace while she learns to be a Grisha. This involves her learning the history, knowing how to fight and of course, she must be taught how to harness her own powers. It’s kind of a boarding school story at this point, with bitchy popular girls, the ~underdog~, and my favourite part of the story, the forbidden love story.
So The Darkling and Alina have a thing. A sexy, sexy thing; he kisses her a lot and she is confused by her feelings, and then he kisses her some more and growls sexy things about how wanting her is a weakness and then they almost have sex during a party and I cried and died. They are this amazing power couple, bringing out deeper sides to each of their characters; Alina, because of how he sees her, grows into her abilities and becomes a powerhouse. The Darkling has to question his own beliefs because Alina questions him. It’s so glorious. Also, ALSO, did you notice the title? Uh huh, uh huh, guess who’s the Shadow? YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT. And the bone? YOU GUESSED IT, THE TITLE OF THE BOOK IS ABOUT MY SHIP. BECAUSE IT IS LEGIT. SO LEGIT.
But because all good things can’t last, Mal returns for the last part of the book and that is the point I unfortunately lost all interest in the story. Alina leaves with him and they embark on a field trip through Fictional Russia, during which Mal alternates between declaring his undying love for Alina and sneering at her for, gasp, having feelings for someone else. I hate him so much. Seriously, the last part of the book infuriated me because it is basically just Mal shouting at Alina, shaming her for her choices and who she actually is, and Alina retreating back into the character she was right at the beginning of the book and meekly agreeing with Mal because he is her ~epic love~.
“I don’t care if you danced naked on the roof of the Little Palace with him. I love you, Alina, even the part of you that loved him.”
Isn’t he so kind? So forgiving? Gosh, isn’t it nice when guys forgive girls for their terrible mistakes and benevolently declare how much they love us, despite us being unworthy? I know it warms my heart when love stories like this crop up in novels about girls becoming empowered, because gosh, we can’t have too much of that. Girls shouldn’t have their own opinions or choose their own paths! Don’t be silly, their love interests will make those decisions for them ^___^;
This ridiculous love story between Mal and Alina completely ruined the book because it just undoes everything Alina achieves until that point. Mal is a huge part of the reason she feels so uncomfortable in her own skin (he is LITERALLY the reason she’s afraid to tap into her powers) and he makes insecure and vulnerable, whereas by herself Alina becomes strong, passionate and confident. Just once I would like to read a YA love story which allows the girl to choose power and sexual, adult attraction over the Ron Weasleys in their life. I mean, really.
This is a good book which had a lot of potential, but all of that is pretty much ruined with the latter half of the story. I’m still going to read the next book in the series but a lot of my enthusiasm died along with Alina’s character development tbh.