Ages 12 - 17
Genre: High Fantasy
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life--a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.
I've had a signed copy of this on my shelf for three years. Never got around to reading it. So I finally downloaded a copy from Audible and listened to it on my iPod. While I struggled to get through the first half of the book, the second half got more exciting. And I did finally get "hooked" and enjoyed the rest of the story. Now having finished the whole thing, I can recommend it with confidence. It's a good story--think "Harry Potter" meets "Divergent" set in Russia. What sets Shadow and Bone apart from other stories in the genre is the Russian setting, which gives it an interesting flavor and some unique creatures and language. I like how the "bad guy" isn't really clear until closer to the end of the story. The romance is present but not heavy-handed, and the story is well-written and easy to follow. Overall, it's the kind of story you can curl with on the couch late at night, or on the sand at the beach. A great summer read.