In anticipation of Leigh Bardugo’s newest Grishaverse book, King of Scars, I decided to reread the trilogy that started it all. (I’ll also be reading Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom, and The Language of Thorns.) Instead of writing full reviews of each book in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, I decided that three mini-reviews would be best.
SPOILER WARNING: I’ve tried to make these reviews as non-spoilery as possible, but if you haven’t read these books and wish to remain completely, 100% unspoiled, proceed with caution! 😬
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
This book is a good start to the series. It introduces us to the main characters, handles a ton of world-building, and sets things into motion for the second and third books. That being said, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time I read it. 🤔 Knowing that Alina and Mal both change by the end of the series, I was a little more patient. But I can see a first-time reader feeling frustrated — or even bored — by both of them. One of the most interesting characters is the Darkling. (I also have a weakness for ancient, magical men with dark pasts and villainous tendencies. 😂) This book does utilize some well-known YA tropes; Alina is the “chosen one,” and there’s definitely a love triangle. I do think, however, that Bardugo uses them in interesting ways.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
This is my favorite of the three books. The pacing is impeccable, we get the perfection that is Sturmhond, and the ending… WHEW. There’s a scene that, even now, still gives me chills. 🖤 (For those who’ve read this book, I’m talking about pg. 418-422.) This book has some serious momentum, and there never seems to be a dull moment. It’s honestly hard to write about it without spoiling some major plot points, but you can expect high seas adventure, secret identities, witty banter, bad decisions (SO MANY OF THEM), hope, pain, and wanting to start the next book immediately after you finish this one. And did I mention Sturmhond? We are truly blessed by his literary existence. 😍
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
While Siege and Storm has impeccable pacing, this book seems to drag on and on… We spend so much time in the White Cathedral (nearly 20% of the book!) and, later, the Sikurzoi. But then the final battle seemed to happen so quickly. 😐 I do like the ending more than I did when I first read this book. I will warn you — it might feel like this book repeatedly rips your heart out and throws it across the room. Don’t worry. This is normal. 😫 I’m still curious about what the trilogy would have looked like if Alina had given in and agreed to rule alongside the Darkling. (I know, I know. He’s undeniably monstrous. But just look at this fan art. Look at it and join me in the pit of despair.) Also, Baghra and Nikolai’s bickering is the fantasy buddy cop movie I never knew I wanted.