Friday, 18 November 2016

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo // the start of something special

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy
Warnings: abusive relationships
Rating: 3 stars
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Let me start by saying that I don’t consider 3 stars to be a bad rating – especially not for this book. It’s largely because I have already read Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, and so I know that her writing gets so much better. But that does not mean that Shadow and Bone isn’t a fantastic book.

In short, it is about two orphans, one who gets thrown into a fascinating world of intoxicating power, and who find their ways back to each other. But on another level Shadow and Bone provides an analogy for abusive relationships. It’s also about how power can be seductive, and that even the strongest people can be manipulated by others to believe that they need them. It’s about how before you even realise what’s happening, it can be too late to escape – because even though you fear it, you don’t know how to leave. And you might not want to.

The reason it isn’t 4 stars is this: it doesn’t hold a candle to Leigh’s Six of Crows. Shadow and Bone only hints at Leigh’s genius for well-crafted and complex characters, but it’s let down by some of the characters being a little bland and lacking in personality. Plus, it doesn’t show how truly splendid and immersive her writing can be.

The reason it isn’t 5 stars is this: it follows a very generic structure. I’ve seen events play out like this in many a fantasy novel, which is nothing like Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom where the structure is wholly unique, incredibly immersive, and something I’m certain I’ll never see replicated anywhere else.

If you can overlook Shadow and Bone’s generic attributes, I would highly recommend reading it. But if you’re not jumping out of your socks to read this trilogy and would rather skip to Six of Crows because of its (very well deserved) hype, you won’t be missing out. Shadow and Bone provides a framework and a comprehensive overview over The Grisha universe, but isn’t essential reading in order to adore its sister series.

Think of it this way: The Grisha Trilogy is the starter – a quick taste of the beautiful Grisha universe. But the Six of Crows is the splendidly colourful and magnificently delicious main course.


  1. I guess I'll probably be reading SoC first then! And if I want more of this universe, I'll read the Grisha trilogy :D

    1. I'd definitely recommend that. The whole time reading the Grisha series all I could think was 'this isn't as good as Six of Crows'!