Series Review-Shadow and Bone

An engaging trilogy and introduction to the Grishaverse and the small sciences but could the TV ( I can’t believe I’m saying this) series be slightly better than the books?

A spoiler free review of the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the first season of the netflix show.

Author Leigh Bardugo

From Amazon

Books in series

Book 1 Shadow and Bone

Book 2 : Siege and Storm

Book 3: Ruin and Rising

Overriding arc

Alina Starkov, an orphan discovers she is a rare Grisha, a sun summoner when she saves her childhood sweetheart in the Fold a piece of land deprived of life when he is attacked by creatures called the volcra. The Darkling is the leader of the Grisha, a group of people with great power and the ability to manipulate the elements using a system called the small science and takes Alina under his wing to train her to use her powers in the hope this will destroy the fold and defeat Ravka’s enemies. Alina has to learn not only how to control her power but also how to negotiate life at court, people trying to use her power for their own purposes her own feelings towards the Darkling and Mal but also how to save Ravka.

The good

I have to confess, I only picked up Shadow and Bone after I finished the Six and Crows and The crooked Kingdom and was hoping to fix my Grishaverse craving. Even though I had some idea about how Alina’s. Mal’s, Genya’s, Zoya’s and Sturmhond”s stories pan out, I was still surprised by some of the twists and turns in these books. These books are in the first person from Alina’s point of view and she only really comes to life in the Siege and Storm, which not surprisingly coincides with Sturmhond dramatically making an entrance. Alina isn’t your typical feisty, hardass heroine and needs a lot of rescuing but I think this makes her more relatable if a little bland. The Russian inspired Grishaverse is an intricate tapestry of world-building, vividly brought to life by Leigh Burdugo. I found myself caring about the secondary characters more than Mal and Alina and  I found myself rooting for  Zoya, Genya, Nicholai and was beyond pleased when their stories continued in the King of Scars trilogy. The Darkling is an intriguing villain cast who like Dracula always seems to come back no matter how many times we think he has died and Baghra has now become my all-time favourite angry, old woman.

The story really picks up pace in Siege and Storm with more political and court intrigue. I may be biased but  Stormhond and Nicholai make their appearance here and bring some needed humour and swashbuckle to the story. The second book remains my favourite and you can see how Alina’s character develops into the Saint and the leader the people of Ravka would like her to be.

Alina’s takes control in book three (after a dramatic rescue) and finally fulfils her destiny and create a new Ravka but we find out more Mal’s unique role and the part he plays in saving Ravka.

The bad

Alina, particularly in the first book is a little boring and despite the books being written in the first person, she never quite comes to life until the dramatic end of Shadow and Bone. Mal is just as bland and a touch judgemental to start off with and even though the book is written from Alina’s point of view, I could never see why Alina was so loyal to him. The story follows the well worn reluctant, chosen one turned hero trope but the world of Ravka, the Fold and the little science is original enough to make up for this.

The ugly

Genya’s backstory of being groomed by the Darkling is particularly heart-breaking.


 The usual YA love triangle makes an appearance Mal, Alina and the Darkling, then Mal, Alina and Nicholai.

Any cliffhangers

You will want to jump into the next book after Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm.

Shadow and Bone, the Netflix TV series

If I hadn’t picked up the books, I’m sure I would have done after watching the TV series and is one of the few instances where the TV show is better than the books but only slightly. I think, the show introducing the Dregs or Crows- Kez, Inej, Jesper, Nina and Matthias was a stroke of genius and bring the energy of the Six of Crows to Alina’s story.

Jessie Mei’s Alina is a little more feisty but still relatable and Mal is much more interesting than he ever was in the book with TV show spending time showing us why the bond between them is so strong. The Darkling’s backstory makes him more human and more sympathetic. The final standoff between the good guys and the Darkling is an action packed sequences that never stops but I prefer the graceful ending of Shadow and Bone especially as they rushed through Zoya’s moment of epiphany.

I can’t wait to see how my favourite book The Six of Crows will be played out in the next season.

Perfect for Fans

The Throne of Glass series, or other YA fantasy


4 and half stars– I loved the Grishaverse and the small science but Alina and Mal are just a little bland for me unlike the rest of the characters who take centre stage in the next two duologies. I would still recommend this trilogy for its breath-taking world building and well-drawn secondary characters and set the scene for the King of Scars.

One thought on “Series Review-Shadow and Bone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s