Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: "Shadow and Bone" and "Siege and Storm"

For those of you who have been living under a rock, sheltered from the YA book world, you might not have heard of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy.  If you're reading this, though, odds are that you are well aware and nothing here is going to be revolutionary.  I finished the first book weeks ago and it took me so long to figure out what I wanted to say that I had read the second book before I posted anything. 
I am heartily ashamed. 

If you like short versions of reviews, here's my summary:
These books are terrific.  Great characters, interesting setting, compelling relationships and genuine drama.  4.5+ stars.

Let's start with book one:  Shadow and Bone.
Our heroine, Alina, has a thankless job in an underappreciated and overworked army as a mapmaker, where she can be largely overlooked but at least she is close to her childhood friend and (secret) love of her life, Mal.  Problem is, she's not very good at her assigned career and the love of her life probably doesn't know how she feels.  But then, in a moment of danger, a rare and important power manifests itself and she is swept into the world of the Grisha and into the the path of the Darkling, the most important Grisha in the country. 

Okay.  So there's your synopsis, complete with setup for the requisite YA love triangle.  Here's the thing:  I actually loved this triangle.  Mal, so easy with the ladies, hardly notices Alina (not that she starts out as a catch or anything).  The Darkling, while giving off some serious creepster vibes, is also the perfect misunderstood tortured soul.  He takes Alina under his wing and gives her something she's never had:  a place to belong. 
To sum up in a gif:
That's before the sh*t hits the fan, of course, and as soon as you read the synopsis of the second book, you'll know what happens.
G'ah.  So many feelings.  I tore through this book in an afternoon.
4.5 stars.  I might rate it higher on a second read-through.

Now.  Siege and Storm.
Adding to the awesomeness that was Shadow and Bone, Bardugo now introduced the infamous Sturmhond, a pirate with an attitude and some serious get-it-done skills.  (See gif above for reaction.)  Mal is still around and despite his frustration and the book two angsting, has started to grow on me.  The Darkling has become a bit of a jerk, but there's still something alluring about him, even if he is the devil incarnate. 
Not only do we have pirates in this book, but we also have sea monsters and secret magics and rebellions and Alina putting a Snooty McBetterThanThou in her place.  All in all, incredibly satisfying. 
Book ends on a did-not-see-that-coming cliffhanger and I want the next book right now.
4.5 stars.  At least.

Overall thoughts:
It's really hard to write "OMG LOVE IT" reviews, because what can you say that isn't rabid fangirling? 

Read these books.  Read them now.  Support bookstores and libraries and authors that do clever things and write interesting characters that have more personality than a damp tissue! 


  1. This book is on the high school book award list in Illinois. So far I've had a few students grab it. I'll have to show them this review :)

    1. YAY!
      If people read (and appreciate) books like this, then maybe there will be fewer crappy books out there..? Maybe...?