Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

In this first installment of the Grisha Trilogy, Leigh Bardugo introduces readers to a fantasy world based on Russian folklore and culture. The land of Ravka has been at war for many years and is divided by the Shadow Fold, an area of complete darkness and flesh-eating volcra.  With enemies at all sides, the King of Ravka trusts the fate of his land to the Darkling and his Grisha (those with unique magical abilities).  At a very young age, children in the land of Ravka, are tested for Grisha abilities.  Alina and Mal, orphans brought to live at the home of a Duke, are tested but, Alina hides her abilities so that she will not be separated from Mal.  Years later, Alina and Mal are in the army; Alina is a mapmaker and Mal a tracker.  While traveling through the Shadow Fold, a place where the Darkling has no power, a volcra attacks Mal, and Alina protects him by shielding him with light.  Once out of the fold the Darkling whisks Alina away and announces that a long awaited “Sun Summoner,” who will help destroy the Shadow Fold, has been discovered.  As Alina trains to become a Grisha at the Little Palace, she longs to see Mal again, but is also drawn to the Darkling.  The more time Alina spends learning to be a Grisha, she struggles to know what to believe and whom she can trust.

I had just started to hear about Shadow and Bone when I went to the ALA (American Library Association) conference in California.  Leigh Bardugo was there signing books and giving away maps of Ravka and very cool grey nail polish.  It was great meeting her and hearing a little more about the book, but I still really didn’t know exactly what I was getting into.  It took me less that two days to read the book and I am thinking that it will be very hard for me to wait for the next book in the trilogy, Siege and Storm, to come out in 2013.  Bardugo does a fabulous job of creating the world of Ravka, with its subtle but intriguing magic.  There is suspense throughout most of the book and just when you think you’ve got the plot figured out, you discover that things may not be as you suspected.  All of you Harry Potter fans and lovers of fantasy, Shadow and Bone is a must read!

Image from http://www.leighbardugo.com/books/. 

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