Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
(Henry Holt and Co., 2012, 358 pages)
The audiobook of Shadow and Bone was well-narrated. The story is set in the nation of Ravka and the land has been split thanks to the Shadow Fold, also known as the Unsea. The Fold envelops a large portion of land in complete darkness and is home to the Volcra, monstrous creatures who feast on human flesh. Alina, orphaned as a young child, is part of an army regiment required to try and cross the Fold. While she is scared, she is going in with her best friend from childhood, another orphan named Mal. The two grew up together and while they rely on one another for comfort and companionship it seems that only Alina has feelings that go beyond friendship.
As the army attempts to cross the Fold it becomes clear that Alina harbors magical abilities that no one could have imagined she had. She is what is known as a Grisha – one who contains certain powers that the rest of the world does not. As a member of the Grisha Alina is taken under the wing of the Darkling, a powerful man who is second in command to the king. He informs her that if they work on harnessing her power they can defeat the Shadow Fold. Alina struggles to embrace her new identity while at the same time trying to wrap her head around the strong attraction she feels for the Darkling. Especially when her feelings for Mal are still in the front of her mind.
The pressure on Alina is intense and while her life becomes one she never could have imagined it soon becomes clear to her that her powers might not be used for the good of the nation. Does she have it in her to stay true to herself?
This was an entertaining read and I’m curious to see where Bardugo goes with the rest of the series. It grabbed my attention pretty quickly, and even though it was narrated it still felt like it would be a fast read. I already have book two of this trilogy on hold at the library. If you’re interested in unique young adult fantasy fiction you might consider giving Shadow and Bone a try.