Review: ‘Shadow and Bone’ books enchant readers until they can’t look away


Christi Norris

Together, the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy by Leigh Bardugo rests on a carpet. In the attached review, seniors Christi Norris and Amanda Hare discussed their thoughts on the trilogy. “The trilogy was engaging and each book was equally great,” Norris said. “There wasn’t one book that we felt was worse than the others, a common problem in other trilogies. All three are what we would consider ‘page-turners.'” 

Alina Starkov is a nobody. 

In a country plagued with a centuries-old war and a sea of darkness better known as “the Fold,” Alina is an insignificant soldier and map maker. What makes Alina even more unimportant, though, is her non-existent lineage as an orphan, and her inability to use the “small science” as Grisha do. 

Everything changes for better or worse when Alina gets sent to cross the Fold with several other soldiers, and ends up fending off an attack by dangerous monsters, otherwise known as the volcra, that live there. During the attack, Alina realizes that her best friend, Mal, is in danger, and rushes to his aid. Before she can understand what’s happening, though, the world around her erupts into a blaze of light, scaring off the volcra. Alina emerges from the volcra attack on the same side of the Fold that she departed from, confused and worried for Mal. What Alina doesn’t know, however, is that the blaze of light that saved them was created by her.

After Alina’s ability is discovered, she is taken to see The Darkling, a man who leads the second army, an army of Grisha. He labels her as the “Sun Summoner” — a person of mythical powers discussed in prophecies as the person who will save Ravka from the Fold. He tries to keep her identity secret, and escorts her back to Os Alta — the capital of Ravka — where she is taught to use her powers. 

What Alina doesn’t know, though, is that she has no real friends in The Little Palace that she now calls home. Her story becomes one of betrayal, pain, and sacrifice, but throughout it all, Alina remains hopeful that she can fulfill her new destiny and destroy the Fold. 

Personal Opinions

The “Shadow and Bone” series by Leigh Bardugo is by far one of the best fantasy series ever written. Bardugo creates a perfect balance of keeping the reader anxious while not overwhelming them with continuous fast-paced scenes. Every character is compelling, as we either loved someone or loved to hate them.

The trilogy was engaging and each book was equally great. There wasn’t one book that we felt was worse than the others, a common problem in other trilogies. All three are what we would consider “page-turners.” 

Alina was a great protagonist, too. Her character development from an unknown girl to a powerful Grisha was masterful and satisfying to see. We loved how she embraced her role of “Sun Summoner,” while also not becoming arrogant with her new saint status.

The love triangle — a love square at some points, really — was a rollercoaster, yet we loved it. We were always conflicted over who we thought was best for Alina. Our favorite in the end, though, was definitely Nikolai. He was caring for Alina and treated her right, while we thought The Darkling treated her terribly, and we felt Mal didn’t accept her Grisha side. Nikolai was even our favorite character of the series. He was entertaining and kind, and his character development was excellent.

Furthermore, every plot twist in the series was unexpected and mind-blowing. We didn’t expect a single one, and we loved it. They were well-thought-out and made sense, while still completely changing the course of the story.

Overall, the series sucked us in, not letting us put it down until we reached the end. It was perfectly-paced and satisfying with compelling characters in a fascinating fantasy world.