A Doubt of a Shadow (Shadow and Bone – A Book Review)

Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Published: 2017

On Goodreads

My Rating:

Rated N for sweet and tender naivety and noxious drama with a side of nerve-rendering creatures.

Soldier. Summoner. Saint.

Orphan and expendable, Alina Starkov is a cartographer. She’s never been good at much of anything but when her regimen is attacked while crossing the Shadow Fold, an unbelievable light explodes from her, revealing a dormant power she never knew existed. Now, she’s taken from all that she’s known and brought into a lavish world of glamor, magic, and power.

As she learns to harness this new power and become a member of the Grisha, dark secrets unfold and she’s left questioning everything around her. Though the pinnacle of a struggle, she refuses to be used for dark and deadly purposes. The Darkling, a Grisha that can manipulate shadow, her polar opposite, draws her in with no intention of letting go.


Okay, so my goal is not to shred this. Not too bad anyway. This was not that great. The hype was as I feared: too much and over the top. Whatever expectations I had, which I’m unclear on if they were that high to begin with, fell to the ground with a splat. Following Alina Starkov, a cartographer, she’s whisked away to a palace that will teach her how to use her newly discovered abilities to create and bend light. Granted, she complained the whole time. Still, the going from poor to grandeur isn’t my utmost favorite trope, especially when it feels random and lackluster.

The plot wasn’t really clear. So, Alina has powers. Okay…So much felt forced and the direction the book was going was murky. I was just as clueless as Alina. The plot of the book didn’t clear up until the second half and only because I guessed at it not because it was clear. Saving the world only came about after so much conflict that was awash in doubt and uncertainty.

The Alina/Darkling/Mal deal was incredibly obvious and had no build-up to make it worthwhile. I was bummed. Alina was incredibly naïve and as each side played games with her and she fell for it every time. Not a good look. Plus, Mal not being the whole first half of the book kind of steered me off him. I nearly forgot he existed. But, when he swept back in, I’ll admit it, I was impressed. I know so many people ship Alina and the Darkling, but I do not. It was obvious from the get-go that he was using Alina. He had very little interest in her and so much interest in her powers. Not falling for that shit. I’m not sure I really ship Mal and Alina. There wasn’t enough development between them for me to come to a conclusion.

Outside of the big three, I wasn’t overly impressed with the other characters. Nothing really caught my attention. There was so much drawn out training and moments that were glossed over. The Apparat caught my attention briefly but only because he reminded me of The Baron from Dune. Ew. LOL.

While there was quite a bit I could get past, there were the pieces I did find myself really liking about this book. One, the depiction of the fantastical element from the Grisha magic to the stag to the other creatures like the volcra was incredible. The world-build based on Russian culture and literature hit me in a soft spot. I love Russian Literature. It’s blunt and cold and loves to cross unexpected boundaries. Really touched the edges of fantasy like The Wheel of Time. I definitely love that it stands on its own.


Not impressed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad so many others are taken with this, but I’m not one of them. It held very little for me outside the imagery and Don’t get me started on the show. I did finally watch it after reading this and that’s a whole other rant to go on. I still want to continue forward with the trilogy in hopes it’ll get better. So far, It’s just not sitting in the hype section for me.


“The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.” (Darkling to Alina, p. 221)

“I try to make a habit of getting things hopelessly wrong.” (Alina, p. 224)

“If I told you I was trying to save the world, would you believe me?” (Alina to Mal, p. 262)

More to come soon…                                                                                               


Song Today? Blood, Tears, and gold by Hurts.

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