Wednesday 9 March 2016

SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

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 fulfil 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?

I've had my eye on Six of Crows for a while now, but when I found out it was set in the world of the Grisha trilogy--and Hachette Australia was nice enough to send me a copy of the first book--I knew I had to read this first. 

And I'm glad I've started at the beginning.

Alina and Mal are orphans who grew up together. They were always there for each other when no one else was. But now they're all grown up, and although they're both with the military, they each have their own positions and responsibilities. Alina is a junior cartographers' assistant and Mal is a tracker. They're still able to talk and keep an eye on each other. Well, Alina is mostly watching Mal getting to know other girls from afar. 

However, the day they're on a skiff making its way across the Shadow Fold and the awful monsters living inside this terrifying stretch of darkness almost kill Mal, Alina unleashes a power she didn't even know she had. Soon, the Darkling takes a special interest in her and starts claiming she's a Sun Summoner. He sweeps her away from the life that she knows and the boy that she loves, and takes her to the castle. Here she's to live a lavish life of comfort, dress in expensive clothes, train with other Grisha, and eventually become the Dakling's personal tool. 

For someone who has lived most of her life as an invisible girl, getting the special attention of the handsome and very seductive Darkling fills her with excitement. He's alluring and his power calls to her. She can't help but develop feelings for him, even if she never forgets about Mal. But it doesn't take long for Alina to realise that the Darkling's special interest in her is dangerous, and might not be exactly what she desired...

Wow. What an awesome book! This was one of those stories that slowly sets the pace, introduces the characters, the world, and what's at stake... without you noticing that you're totally hooked and must keep reading until the end. Yep. Wow.

The world of the Grisha is fascinating and dangerous. Everything appears beautiful and shiny on the outside, but hides a ruthless and very rotten core. It's where the mysterious and alluring Darkling holds the promise of releasing Ravka from the darkness that threatens to consume the land, or he could be chasing a different goal. Nothing is as it seems. 

Shadow and Bone is an intriguing and unique dark YA fantasy. This book throws the reader into a bedazzling world hiding so much that when the layers slowly start to peel off, you're totally taken by surprise. It's thrilling, exciting, dangerous, and filled with characters that keep you engrossed until the very last word. 

This book could have easily become just another generic fantasy because it contains some familiar tropes: young girl discovers a strong power, she's thrown into a new way of life, must train and even hints at a love triangle. But it's not. There are so many twists and turns, situations you just don't expect or see coming. And that's the awesome thing about this book. You think you know what you're getting into, but you really don't.

Loved it. Can't wait to read the next book.  

Shadow and Bone, October 2014, 9781780622262, Indigo

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