The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
This book. I can't really explain how much I enjoyed this book. I love lots of books, but I don't often find new ones that I love. To be honest, nowadays, I find myself thoroughly irritated by a book more often than I actually like it. And this book is high fantasy, a genre that I am generally very sceptical of. Seriously, even a hint of magic and I'm basically put off. I attribute this scepticism to Harry Potter - the perfect wizard book exists, why is anyone else bothering? - but this book is high fantasy and full of magic. And it is glorious.
The word epic gets thrown around a lot, but I think this trilogy - Shadow and Bone is the first instalment and I believe the sequel, Siege and Storm, was released yesterday (my copy is on its way as we speak!!) - is going to be just that. Alina has lived all her life as an orphan, living in a benevolent duke's house with her best friend, Mal. Neither one of them has the talent required to join the Grisha, the mysterious and magical group ruled by the Darkling (more on him later), and so they join the army. Alina is a mapmaker, though she has little talent for that either. In fact, she's spent her whole life feeling like she didn't fit anywhere but with Mal, but even he is starting to drift away from her. Enter the Darkling. I could write several paragraphs about him now, but I feel honour-bound to keep quiet and let you experience his character for yourself. I just have to say that he ranks highly on my list of favourite male characters of all time. It's not a long list, I'm extraordinarily picky about...well, about everything, but that just makes him being on the list more impressive.
Frankly, there isn't a lot more I can say about this book because I don't want to spoil a second of it for anyone. I want you all to go out and get it and devour it for yourselves. I will say that I thought it was a little slow to start, it wasn't until Alina was with the Grisha that I became hooked, and there could have been an awful lot more kissing scenes between Alina and the Darkling, but Leigh Bardugo herself assures me there is more kissing in the sequel, though it now occurs to me that she didn't specify exactly who would be involved in this kissing.
Anyway, before I start to analyse what was really just a short tweet, I have one more thing to say and it's to do with my wariness of high fantasy novels - this book contains a map.
If I was sceptical about it before, the fact that there was a map inside the cover was enough to make me regret having bought the book. Luckily, I turned out to be completely wrong, about as wrong as I could have been. I loved this book. I can't stress it enough. After I finished it, I immediately wanted to open it up and read it all over again. I haven't felt that way about a book in years and it's one of the best feelings I know. So do yourself a favour and buy this book. At once. And while we're at it, order a copy of the sequel, because you're bound to want to get your hands on it the second you finish the first one.