fantasy · YA

Make It Russian and Call It Fantasy: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

“Like calls to like.”

You all know the Six of Crows duology is one of my favorite series in the world (Janel, refrain from insulting my reading taste, please lmao). And back when I decided to read it, I figured I should just start with the Grisha trilogy and then move to SoC. But I read Shadow and Bone and did not really care for it at all. So I never continued. But my friends, King of Scars is coming soon and I really want to be in the loop. So I decided to reread Shadow and Bone and continue on with the series. And I am sad to report that my feelings did not change upon reread. So let’s discuss why this failed for me.


One of my biggest grievances with the novel is the world-building. I personally found it to be really lackluster. I found it to be inconsistent and moreover, I felt like it was really confined. I spoke previously about how I hate when the world-buidling feels confined to a certain place. I never felt like the Grisha world had any sort of scope – I could not really imagine a world beyond the place of the plot, which I really dislike. I feel like Fantasy worlds should have a broadness to them and extend over a particular place, which I don’t feel was the case here.

On top of all that, I feel like this world was to inspired by Russia and Eastern Europe. This might not bother some people, but I personally found it aggravating. It’s not so much inspired by Russia, as it heavily “borrows” from that culture and makes it sort of this exotic, Fantasy thing. Which annoyed. There was even this point where the author used my own language and made it a “dialect”. If you are gonna make a Fantasy language, just make it an imaginary language! Don’t use an already existing one. I found that so grating. I felt like the world really loses any sort of originality by all of this.


I personally found Alina to be so bland and so beyond boring. I just can’t give you one character trait of hers because she doesn’t have any. She is the most basic YA heroine that you can imagine. There’s not a single thing about her that I found compelling or relatable. And I hated Mal. He is obnoxious and the epitome of jerky best friends who don’t know what they have until they lose it. CAN WE NOT DO THAT? What Alina sees in him is also beyond me. He is a jerk. And I hate him.
The Darkling is also frustrating because I feel like he had a lot of potential. He could have been such a good morally grey/villainous character. But by the end, he turned into the most generic and bland kind of villains. And I truly don’t get the hype surrounding him. Also, he and Alina have more chemistry than her and Mal, but that chemistry is still basically non-existent. JUST GET A GRIP EVERYONE.

I loved Genya and feel like she is the most complex character in the book and I cannot wait to see more of her. I think she has a lot of potential to be a really solid character but who knows what Bardugo will do with her.


I feel like this book is one of the most generic YA Fantasy novels I’ve read. It has it all – a girl discovering her power and being confused about it, not knowing how to navigate the world and her newfound role as the chosen one, being torn between her childhood best friend and the new guy… It’s all there. And I just did not find the characters or the world compelling enough to enjoy that. Maybe if I have read this years ago, when YA was just getting popular I might have liked it slightly more, but it’s really formulaic in its execution so I don’t think that would have been much help.


Finally, this book had incredibly poor pacing. The first half of the book (and I mean literally the first 50 percent of it) was incredibly slow and NOTHING happened. And then around the halfway mark, there’s this abrupt change in pacing, where it picks up and just goes off. And not only was this incredibly jarring, the second half in turn felt really rushed, and because everything happened then, all the “reveals” were so underwhelming. On top of that, there’s a change in character dynamics that also feels very artificial and very abrupt. And I feel like the whole book suffers because of this.

verdictUltimately, I did not really enjoy this one. I feel like it had a lot of issues and there just wasn’t anything for me to latch on to and really love. It did have potential, but I feel like that potential was seriously unused. I would not be quick to recommend this one, but hopefully, I’ll like the other books in the series more.

Final verdict: 2.5 stars

addHave you read the Grisha series? What were your thoughts? And how do you like it compared to Six of Crows? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!



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13 thoughts on “Make It Russian and Call It Fantasy: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Love the title of this post! XD I remember reading Shadow and Bone around the time it came out and loving it. With more people rereading now I’ve been seeing the same kind of opinions. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. That said, I’m glad the author improved so much with Six of Crows! The character dynamics and development is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s quite possible that I would have enjoyed it way more if I read it back in the day, but I sadly did not and now it just left a lot to be desired for me. And yeah, I can definitely see a vast improvement in her characterization between this and Six of Crows!


  2. Haha, you called me out so now I HAVE to comment 😂 I think I figured out why I’m so mad about SoC, it’s because of the title, I can’t deny ‘Six of Crows’ is a good title! Now, you mention ‘King of Scars’ – oh my, what an epic title, if I didn’t know any better, I’d be all over that preorder, BUT, I do know better and I’ll bypass the Grishaverse and head on straight to Orïsha, and catch up with Zélie!! Although, I’m slyly annoyed at Adeyemi for calling Nora Roberts out on her book title, Of Blood and Bone, not a good look 🙈, -1 for Adeyemi, but that’s a whole different convo! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s wait for the release of King of Scars and me recommending it to you until you pick it up and hate it 😂 AND YES – I am so hyped for Children of Virtue and Vengenance, I can’t wait to see where the story goes. And yeah, Adeyemi really didn’t think that one through 🙈But I am still excited for her book, I attribute it to her inexperience in the industry


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