To prepare for the release of King of Scars, Isabelle thought it would be a good idea to reread the Grisha Verse trilogy. So we decided to dedicate a whole week on the blog to Grisha. We’re both excited to read the newest book in this world.
To start off our Grisha week, we’re sharing our review for Shadow and Bone, the first book in this trilogy!
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
“This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.”
Isabelle: I own the new editions and I really like these new covers. But I have to say, those old covers really have something special as well. I love the building on the cover and the typography. Definitely think these covers give off the right vibe. And I just love the colors they used for the new editions.
Candyce: I actually like the cover of Shadow and Bone. I’m a big fan of purple and the cover just jumps out at you. After reading I understand the building on the cover more. In all honesty though, I love the new edition to the covers that was released last year better.
Isabelle: I have read the whole trilogy before so this is a reread for me. It’s been over 3 years since I read these books and it turned out I forgot quite some things haha. I knew I wanted to get all the characters straight in my head before diving into King of Scars and I think that was the right call. And the ending was actually quite surprising haha, I totally forgot all of that happened in this first installment.
I think I enjoyed this reread more than I did it the first time I read these books. The worldbuilding was my favorite part the first time around. And it is still spectacular. I love the Six of Crows duology and I’m so happy to be back in this world again. The book has a little list of the different orders of Grisha right at the start and that’s so helpful! Even though I love this world and have read quite some books set in it, I can’t get the names of the orders in my head haha.
I really enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s writing style and was once again reminded why she is one of my favorite authors. After loving Six of Crows SO much, I think I downplayed this series in my head a little bit. But these books are so important, they explain the world really well and are really your gateway into the Grishaverse.
The plot isn’t anything super special, it follows a lot of YA fantasy tropes but that didn’t bother me at all. With such an amazing world and these interesting characters I just couldn’t put the book down and was completely sucked into the story. The ending of the book left me surprised even though this was a reread haha. It also ended quite nicely, you would like to read the rest of the series but if this was all you read you would be pretty satisfied I think. Just know my favorite character gets introduced in the second book, so you better pick that up 😉
Candyce: Shadow and Bone is a reread for me! I read this for the first time last year. I remember really enjoying it, but once again other books got in the way and I haven’t had a chance to read the second and third book. That’s why I wanted to join Isabelle with the reread.
Once again, I was shocked by how much I didn’t remember while reading this for the second time. Certain events felt new and I completely forgot how it ended. The Grisha world is really interesting and I love how it’s built. Leigh Bardugo was smart by starting us off when Alina and Mal were young, so we understood a bit more about how everything started.
Leigh Bardugo has a way with words and really sucked me into this world. I loved how everything was described and I felt like I was there with the characters. The pacing wasn’t too fast or slow and I felt like we really saw Alina grow. I think I would’ve like an extra POV though. I felt like we were missing a bit of the details in the world. Maybe some more information about the King or day to day life in the palace. Shadow and Bone has twists and turns I didn’t see coming and this world is pretty magical.
Shadow and Bone left me wanting more, but it doesn’t end in a major cliffhanger. The ending definitely left me with a lot of questions. I’m curious to see what Alina does next with her developing power.
“So I’d made my choice. I’d pushed my power down and held it there each day, with all my energy and will, without ever realizing it. I’d used up every bit of myself to keep that secret.”
Isabelle: I think the characters are part of why I liked this book better this time around. Alina wasn’t all that interesting to me the first time but she managed to grow on me! Her circumstances are pretty sucky but she doesn’t really complain about them and just tries to go through life. I loved seeing her coming into her own powers and growing strong not just Grisha wise but mentally as well.
Mal was a character I used to hate with a passion. But reading about him now made me wonder why I hated him so much haha. He still isn’t my favorite but he managed to grow on me as well. I liked how he was there for Alina.
I love the Darkling, such a wonderful character! He keeps you guessing and on your toes and if I remember correctly that goes on all throughout the trilogy. And talking about remembering correctly, haha, I totally forgot that some of the reveals and twists were happening in this book. The Darkling has some great twists. Although I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed by how one of those reveals ‘happened’, it was just told and I think that could’ve been done a bit more interesting.
I totally forgot about Genya! It was wonderful reading about her again, I really love her. She is more complex than she seems at first and I loved reading her short story The Tailor. I think this really shows who she is and why she makes some of the choices she does. It was also fun seeing David and Zoya again, I did remember them but it was good to refresh my memory.
Candyce: Alina grew up without her parents, but found a good friend and family in Mal at the orphange. She’s never felt like she fit anywhere and feels invisible at times. I felt bad for her, because she really just wanted a place in her world. I love how she develops in this story though. Alina goes from a shy insecure girl to a young woman who realizes she has power and can change the way things go. Once she accepts her fate, she feels like she finally belongs.
Mal isn’t really a character that left me warm or cold. I think he feels responsible for Alina and it’s great to see hw was her best friend. It was hard for me to really get to know him, because he isn’t around for a lot of the story. I think a couple chapters from his POV would’ve helped a bit.
The Darkling, a character you love to hate? My journey with him was quite a rollercoaster, haha. In the beginning I didn’t like him, halfway through the book he started getting on my good side and at the end he’s on my evil characters list. There is something about him though that makes it hard to completely hate him. I am interested in his character and just have a feeling we’ll see more of him.
Besides these three, I really like Genya. She seemed really sincere and I loved how she welcomed Alina! There is more to her though and I need to read her short story (The Tailor) soon. I hope we get to see more of her. There were also a lot of other side characters that I hope we see in the next two books.
trigger warning: animal death/killing (we can’t believe this hasn’t been commented on before!)
We both really enjoyed diving back in the world. Have you read Shadow and Bone yet? What did you think?