The story is about an orphaned girl named Alina Starkov. Her only friend, Mal, keeps her company as they grow up, playing in and around the property. When the magicians called Grisha come to test children for powers, the two are found to be perfectly ordinary, and must serve in the King’s First Army of commoners.
Years later, a troupe of soldiers and Grisha prepare to travel through the Shadow Fold, a deadly and strip of land created by the magic of the ancient Black Heretic. The swath of land is a cut of stifling darkness, slashing through the land. Within the regions, there are swarms of terrifying winged demons called Volcra, making travel deadly. When Alina and Mal’s troupe is attacked, Mal is brutally injured, and Alina unknowingly calls upon a storied and legendary power hidden within her.
With lancing beams of blinding sunlight, she drives away the monsters, then promptly passes out. As the first Sun Summoner in generations, Alina is doomed and destined to become far greater than the scrawny and average peasant she used to be.
From the scenes Leigh Bardugo paints, we readers picture a vast, fairytale version of Russia. From the intricate descriptions of palaces to forests, every page seems dreamy and enchanting. This story is a unique use of the “Finding inner greatness” theme. It’s amazing how smoothly and quickly the storyline develops, how a typical child is whisked off to a world of broader horizons. Alina slowly becomes accustomed, and grasps the full scope of things that a commoner could never understand. The Grisha magic is both revered and powerful, including mastery over fire, wind, darkness, even the ability to destroy human flesh. These make for a thrilling and action-packed scenes necessary for great fantasy books. In addition, Shadow and Bone includes a haunting romantic side, in which Alina is torn between her childhood love, Mal, and the land’s most powerful magician, the Darkling.
With that, I implore you to read this mysterious fairytale. A movie is supposed to follow soon, so you’ll have that to look forward to also. Cheers!
-Phillip X., 9th grade