Staff Review – The Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

While watching the “Shadow and Bone” series on Netflix, I knew I would want to start reading the series. Viewers of the show may not be aware, but 1) the show has sadly been cancelled after two seasons and 2) the show sewed together both the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy (following Alina, Mal and the Darkling) and the “Six of Crows” duology (following Kaz, Jesper, Inej and the rest of the crew), both written by author Leigh Bardugo. Readers should begin with “Shadow and Bone”, as this is where the story of the Grishaverse begins. Here we meet Alina, a seemingly ordinary orphan secretly in love with her best friend (and fellow orphan) Mal. In their world, people are either otkazat’sya (ordinary people like you and me) or Grisha, Masters of the Small Science. In the simplest terms, Grisha possess magical powers, able to manipulate the elements, materials or living things. The country of Ravka, where this story takes place, has been divided by something known as The Fold, also called the Unsea – a vast darkness created by The Darkling that is likely to kill anyone who enters. Alina discovers that she is not only Grisha, but the foretold Sun Summoner – the one whose power should be able to destroy the Fold and unite Ravka once more.

Let’s just break a common misconception right now – YA books can and should be enjoyed by all adults, both young and not-as-young. Many adult readers feel that YA novels are too juvenile for them. While the Grishaverse is housed in the YA section of TBPL, they are not meant for readers 18 and younger exclusively. As a thirty-something year old, I thoroughly enjoyed this series. These novels are filled with complex storylines, violent battles and a vast universe to immerse yourself into. The story of Alina vs. the Darkling is a tale as old as time – light vs. dark, good vs. evil – and is a story that hits home for any age. As Alina’s power grew throughout the series, she struggled with the desire for more, and a certain line was repeated throughout highlighting the dangers of this desire: “What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.” This quote, mentioned in all three novels, reminds the reader (and Alina) the dangers of pursuing more and more power. It is a stark reminder of how the search for power will always leave you empty.

Reviewing the trilogy as a whole, I really liked how the story arc carried out and how things tied back to the beginning of the series. While Alina is the main character, Mal and the Darkling being next in line, I really enjoyed reading some of the other side characters of the series, including Baghra, Tamar and Tolya, and Nikolai. Everyone had a story and the way everyone weaved together was seamless. Bardugo is a master world-builder, and she knows the importance of character backstories and how everyone fits into the larger picture. If you’re looking for an immersive series to wrap yourself into, check our the Shadow and Bone series – Shadow and Bone , Siege and Storm , and Ruin and Rising – by Leigh Bardugo today!