Russian is not my first or second language, nor do I know much about its culture, but that didn’t stop me from reading “Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo.
Shadow and Bone is the first book in a trilogy that follows a girl, Alina, who is saved from going to war because she learns she has the ability to create light. She is taken from the fields to Ravka court where she meets the Darkling, a powerful man who can create darkness. In a nation ravaged by darkness and monsters, her ability can help her nation and its people. However, as she learns to understand her ability, others try to use her for their own personal gain among the royal court.
The trilogy is published by YA books and they have a particular trend with the books they publish: A helpless girl discovers something unique and is taken to a place where people can help build her ability, then comes the love triangle and its plot. After reading a few books by YA, it does get annoying reading the somewhat same plot development. Yet I always find myself finding new books to read under their publication.
Pushing that aside, the story itself is filled with drama, unexpected actions by the characters, action and adventure. As the story develops, so do the characters. Once she is brought to court is when the story starts to pick up and intensify. There are a few jaw-dropping moments, which is one of the reasons I was so hooked on the story. I read “Shadow and Bone” in three days because I was glued to Alina’s story. I am reading book 2 now and it is hard for me to put it down, especially during a semester. If you want to start on this trilogy, I recommend doing it when you are not crammed with assignments.
Bardugo does something unique that not a lot of others do. She created a whole new world for these characters but implements Russian culture and words. Often times I found myself thinking I am in Russia but really I was in a different world. I had to keep my phone with me as I read so if I ran into a word I did not understand I could look it up. It even helped when Bardugo would describe clothing because I could go on Google Images or Pinterest to get an idea as to how the clothing would look.
I recommend the trilogy for anyone who wants to be transported to another realm with a new yet unique culture that not a lot of people know about. It is a cliché YA book, but once you read past it, the story itself takes you on an adventure. Oddly enough, I may have found a new appreciation for the Russian culture.