Book Review: Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo
Life has been hard for Alina Starkov, but until recently she has always been able to count on her best friend, Malyen Oretsev. Teen-aged orphans in the war-torn country of Ravka, she and Mal now serve in the army, which consists of regular troops and people with magical powers, known as the Grisha. Foremost among these is the Darkling, a frightening and powerful man in command of the army. Then their regiment is sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a forbidding area of thick darkness inhabited by man-eating, flying monsters. When the regiment is attacked, Mal’s life in in danger, and Alina unexpectedly unleashes a blast of light that saves their lives but reveals her to be one of Grisha. Immediately the Darkling takes her to the capital to be trained, and Alina is forced to leave Mal behind. At first she is overwhelmed by the decadence and luxury all around her. Only a few people, including the Darkling, are kind to her. She has no control over her power, she has a great deal of learning and training to do, and most of all, she just misses Mal. She soon learns that all is not as it seems, and not everyone is to be trusted.
This was a gripping story, set in an unusual, vivid world of magic, danger and political intrigue, amid a people who are consumed with the acquisition of power. The Russian-inspired country, culture, and names made the story even more interesting. Alina begins as a feisty but naïve girl whose character grows throughout the course of the story. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next book in the series.