Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone was a big hit with my teen book discussion group. There was a lot of animated talk and excitement about this new series. Leigh Bardugo weaves Russian culture with high fantasy adding just enough suspense and romance to keep readers intrigued and happily turning pages. Both the heroine and her antagonist are multidimensional characters, too, with strange pasts and questionable futures.

Alina is a teen orphan who discovers much later than usual that she is not just a commoner but a Grisha, one of the few born with a magical gift. And not just any Grisha, Alina has a special talent that could change the fate of her country. Bardugo uses first person narration and I think the third person would have been stronger. I felt Alina’s viewpoint limited the potential for world building. Shadow and Bone focuses on Alina’s transformation and coming of age while she comes into her new power. She struggles to decipher who her true friends are. Teenagers will relate to her anxiety and feelings of awkwardness as she discovers her new place in an adult world.

Fans of fantasy with a bit of romance will enjoy this well conceived and written debut novel. Alina is an imperfect character which is why I like her. While teens will be drawn to the love-triangle it does not completely dominate the story. Bardugo offers an interesting backdrop for the action which picks up considerably as characters race to control a destructive power. Readers will be left wanting to grab the second book, Siege and Storm. I  know my teen readers couldn’t wait!

While dystopias are all the rage right now, and I am a fan of them, Shadow and Bone is a nice retreat back to classic fantasy. If you're looking to diversify your teen's reading I would highly recommend this book! The Russian flavor to the story is a nice treat and sparked an interest in Russian culture during my teen book discussion.

Publisher: Henry Holt, 2012     Pages: 359
Rating: 3.5 Stars     Source: Public Library


  1. I'd love to know how you set up the teen discussion groups and where you get multiple books for it? Are you a public librarian or school? I've wanted to do this sort of thing but my budget won't allow purchasing multiple copies of books. Your thoughts?

  2. Hi, Anne! I've written a post in response. I hope it helps!