Shadow and Bone

Title: Shadow and Bone. (The Grisha #1) Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages: 358 Genre: YA Fiction/Fantasy
Recommended: If you like most YA books.
Song: “Just Like Fire” by P!nk

This book is all about magic.


Yes, it’s YA

The appreciation scale of YA literature ranges from “ga-ga” to “bitter hater”. I fall somewhere in between, where I’m all-at-once ambivalent, swoony, and ready to criticize. “Shadow and Bone” follows the typical YA plot: adolescent separated from their normal life and sent to a strange place with equally strange people, strange new skills and strange drama. High school + magic = best seller in the bag. (Not even joking. At Grisha High there are social cliques based on magical ability.) Insert love triangle and betrayal for added fandom.

One particularly entertaining commentary on female YA characters sums it up perfectly. Thanks, Nataliya on Goodreads!

So, Why Read?

I fell under the spell of “Six of Crows“, published by the same author in 2015. Now that Leigh Bardugo has a few successful novels under her belt, I can see where she has become stronger over time (S&B was published in 2012).

What I loved about “Six of Crows” was the depth, variance, and internal struggles of its characters. This I missed in “Shadow and Bone”, where the characters fit into main fairytale and YA archetypes.

That being said, “Shadow and Bone” does have some interesting villian building. I love myself a good villian: one really bad day at work had my buying the Funko pops for Maleficent and Sauron.

Magic Doesn’t Rule

Power breeds power, right? Not in Ravka (setting). Usually, those with magical powers call the shots. In this book, the Grisha (people with magical ability) fit more into the skilled worker role. While an interesting dynamic, I missed explanation of what stopped the Grisha from taking over a long time ago.

Magic As A Talent

Magical trainer Bagda says, “It’s not something separate from you…your power serves you because that is its purpose…because it cannot help but serve you.

Another YA trope: finding your power within yourself. I think this is what has me returning to the genre over and over again. I like when people find that everything they are looking for is right there in their hearts.


Narrator Laruen Fortgang does a great job. I especially like the voice she does for The Darkling. She also narrated a part in “Six of Crows” and was amazing there too.