REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Disclaimer: slightly spoilery review incoming.

You know when a book is so ridiculously hyped up and you cannot WAIT to read it and every inch of your soul is burning for it and you can barely contain yourself and then you finally actually read it and you’re just like, oh?

My experience with Shadow and Bone was the exact opposite of this.

I read Bardugo’s other series, Six of Crows somewhere in 2017 and fell head over heels in love. If you follow my Instagram or have read pretty much any of my blog posts up until now, you’ll be rolling your eyes at me. Okay, Caitlin, we get it. But seriously, Six of Crows is incredible and by far Bardugo’s more popular work. So much so, that the Grisha trilogy has kind of a bad rep, at least from my experience.

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I’ve heard loads of people on Booktube and Bookstagram saying that the Grisha trilogy is basically a waste of time, especially if you’ve already read Six of Crows. The writing isn’t as good, the characters aren’t too well developed, the story is flat, and the world-building is lacking. Bottom line? I didn’t freaking read it. Because apparently it SUCKS.

Flash forward to 2019, and the Grishaverse is getting a Netflix adaptation and now I’m the poor sucker that got left behind and knows nothing about all this Darkling crap. On top of that, I couldn’t participate in the King of Scars hype because I have absolutely no clue who Nikolai is either. Great. Love that for me.

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Obviously, I decided to finally just read the damn series so I could get myself up to speed and join the cult of people that are going to be rolling their eyes at the Netflix series going “ugh, the books did it better”. But trust me, I wasn’t excited about it.

I put it off for weeks and basically prepared myself to trudge through this series. I honestly expected to hate it a bit.

AND I REALLY DIDN’T HATE IT.

Okay, when you first start reading this book (especially if you are familiar with Six of Crows) the writing will take some getting used to. It doesn’t flow quite right, and it takes a few chapters to get into the swing of things, but once you do, I found it to be enjoyable nonetheless.

Aside from the speed bumps with the writing, I honestly adored this story. Like, really. I don’t want this review to be laced with spoilers (for the other three people in the world who haven’t read this yet) so I won’t discuss the plot in too much detail, but I’m just going to touch on a few things that I really loved.

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First of all – Alina. Honestly? She may have some minor special-snowflake syndrome, but I like her chutzpah. I find her to be quite a relatable character; she’s not the prettiest princess in all the land, she’s a kinda boring map maker (this sounds very self-deprecating) and she makes mistakes in love and life. Don’t we all? She’s got good spirit and I’m looking forward to watching her character develop in the rest of the series.

Also, hello to the magic system of this world! The one thing that never truly gripped me in Six of Crows because I didn’t fully understand it – and it all makes perfect sense now. I love how magic works in this story – the fact that Grisha cannot simply create something from nothing. Light, fire, objects, etc. all have to be summoned and used from where they already exist. It’s somehow a more realistic magic system if that makes sense, and I love the identification colours the Grisha wear too.

Finally, I need to discuss the romance situation in this damn book. What the hell was that? Bardugo gets you all riled up against this Mal kid, makes you fall in irrevocably in love (and lust, oops) with the Darkling and then flips the switch completely? Now I’m supposed to hate the hot broody bad boy with dark hair and shiny eyes and what? Root for the long-term best-friend-nice-guy? I don’t buy it. Call me heartless but I’m not into it, I’m into the villain. He’s very, very attractive in that way book characters are, and I feel like a giggly sixteen-year-old whenever he so much as glances at Alina. I’m still somewhat convinced that something more is going to happen there. Am I evil for hoping this? DON’T CARE. Sue me.

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So there. That’s my unpopular opinion: (so far) the Grisha trilogy is actually underrated and deserves way more love and probably none of the hate it gets online. Maybe I’m easily impressed, or maybe I’m just Leigh Bardugo trash, either way, I’m glad I finally read this. Four out of five stars on Goodreads and a giant heart-eyes emoji from me.

Grisha series lover or not a fan? Who’s excited for the Netflix original? Chat to me in the comments!

let me know your thoughts!