When I started reading all the rave reviews in 2012 for Leigh Bardugo’s dark fantasy, Shadow and Bone, my interest was piqued. The New York Times called the debut novelist’s writing “Mesmerizing…Bardugo’s set up is shiver-inducing, of the delicious variety. This is what fantasy is for.”
The reviewers were right: I loved Shadow and Bone, Bardugo’s first book in her young adult fantasy trilogy. She has created a dark, mysterious country called Rafka with the flavor of old Russia. The heart of the book is Bardugo’s heroine, Alina Starkov, a wise-cracking orphan who doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Alina’s life dramatically changes when she discovers she has a hidden superpower. She is forced to be trained as one of the Grisha, the magical elite led by a fascinating, dangerous man called the Darkling. Alina eventually realizes the Darkling wants to use her power to conquer all of Rafka.
After I read Shadow and Bone, it was hard waiting for the next two books. Siege and Storm was released in 2013, and the finale, Ruin and Rising, came out last month. Although the books deal with dark themes, humor is sprinkled throughout the pages, which lightens the reader’s journey with Alina. Some romantic twists also nicely add to the highly entertaining, action-packed story.
DreamWorks bought the rights to Shadow and Bone, so a movie may be in the works. In the meantime, Bardugo is writing another fantasy set in the same world as the Grisha Trilogy, but in a different country with new characters. I can’t wait.