It had been a while since I had fallen in love. What can I say? I have very high standards. I don’t have as much time as I used to. I didn’t think there was room in my heart, considering I was hung up on my old loves. But then I found the Grisha Trilogy. By the time I finished the three books by Leigh Bardugo, I knew I had found love once again.

This fantastically touching and dramatic story starts with the first book, Shadow and Bone, in the war-torn country of Ravka. Based on Tsarist Russian culture and history, Leigh Bardugo paints a beautiful fantasy world of adventure and magic for the protagonist, Alina Starkov. Alina is a scrawny young woman, a cartographer of average talent serving the Ravkan army. The only family she knows is her handsome best friend, Mal Oretsev. Commoners like Alina and Mal live under the shadow of the Grisha, an elite group of magicians who also serve in the army. They have the power to control water or wind, and they can crush a person’s heart inside his body with just a hand gesture.

One day, the troops cross the Fold, a dangerous and haunted stretch of land that cuts Ravka into two regions. In a moment of dire desperation and danger, the dormant and highly unexpected ability to summon light rises inside Alina. The awakening of this power plunges her into the unfamiliar world of the Grisha. She meets the Darkling, a man with immense and intoxicating power who commands the Grisha Army. Alina soon learns that her ability to summon light makes her one of the most powerful Grisha to exist. However, Alina’s inexperience and vulnerability overwhelm even her power and lead her don the path of dark magic and dark secrets that could destroy Ravka. Alina must learn quickly who her enemies and allies are. Most importantly, she must learn if she has what it takes to save Ravaka from the ominous shadows that threaten to swallow the country in a dark apocalypse.

This book was superb. It had been a while since I truly enjoyed fantasy, but this book was written the way a fantasy should read: brilliant, adventurous, and thrilling at every turn. A good trilogy follows a certain pattern that makes it captivating and iconic, and Shadow and Bone was the perfect first book of this trilogy. With fantastic rising action and deeply complex and fascinating characters, readers will surely want to read the next two books. The book, great plot and all, would not have been the same without Leigh Bardugo’s gorgeous writing. Her writing is flowing and descriptive, without being pretentious. At some moments, it can be quite poetic. The dialogue is funny sometimes and heartbreaking others, but always enthralling. Bardugo’s characters are fascinating and touching as well, and each character is vibrant and unique. The chemistry that the Darkling and Alina have is tangible and complex.

By now, it’s probably pretty clear that I am head-over-heels for Shadow and Bone! It’s a must-read for every lover of fantasy. Come back and comment here when you’re done; I want to hear your opinions. This is one of those books I want the whole world to know about!

As someone who loves to sing and listen to music, I was inspired to make a list of amazing songs that remind me of the themes and characters in Shadow and Bone. Enjoy!

  • Witchy Woman → The Eagles
  • Shake It Out → Florence and the Machine
  • Set Fire to the Rain → Adele
  • One Of These Nights → The Eagles