|Shadow and Bone|
by Leigh Bardugo
"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."
I really had no desire to read this book, it looked pretty "high fantasy" to me, and I'm not a big fan of that. I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy AFTER I saw the movies, which goes against all my principles, but it was the only way I could get through them. Shadow and Bone has the look and feeling of a high fantasy novel. However, it was light enough to please me. I was surprised by how much I liked it. There is adventure, romance, mystery, intrigue and drama. The world building was amazing, however there is a lot to take in. I loved the friendship between the 2 main characters. The main character was spunky and feisty, even while physically weak. There are definitely things in this book that could irritate people who are students of Russian culture, or who love high fantasy, however, I overlooked those things and thoroughly enjoyed the story. I'm excited to see what happens in the next book, because yes, this is the start of yet another series.
Areas of concern: There was one pretty big, although interrupted-before-anything-major-happens make-out scene, and the teenage character of Mal is apparently sleeping around, although that is only implied. There are less than 5 swear words. Supernatural violence and an animal killing that could be upsetting.
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 7+