Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

shadow-and-boneBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Henry Holt, 2012
  • Edition, First
  • Description: 358 pages ; 22 cm
  • Interest Level: YA
  • Summary: “Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.  ” Retrieved from authors website at
  • ISBN: 978-0-8050-9459-6
  • Subjects:
    • Magic – Fiction
    • Russian culture – Fiction
    • Religion – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: Mal is my heart and my home.  Who won’t risk everything to save that.

Book Trailer:

Plot Summary: Two orphans in a war torn world find themselves together in an orphanage where they stay until they are old enough to have a trade or join the military.  They both go to the army, because not being together is unthinkable and there they can be together: she is a mapmaker and he is a tracker.  Now they face the Fold – a place created by magic called the Small Sciences – a place of complete darkness where monsters kill anyone who dares enter.  It is in this Fold that the girl, Alina, manifests a great and rare form of the Small Sciences when she summons light to fight off the monsters who are trying to carry away her friend, Mal.  This brings her to the attention of the Grisha, practitioners of magic and their leader, the Darkling, a young man of terrible powers who controls the Kingdom by controlling the King.  She is something he has been searching for and he intends to use her to find three items of power he could use to destroy the Fold.  Or so he says.  But, what does he really want with her and what does she want for herself?

Critical Evaluation:  There are many books written these days about dystopian societies where a young woman is the center of the story either by virtue of circumstances or because of some unique personal aspect.  This book falls into the second category in that the heroine, Alina, knew she was different even when she was a small child but hide it so that she could stay with Mal, her friend and eventually, her love interest.  In a world of chaos, Alina and Mal bonded and that bond is more important to them than any other person or event in their lives. The writing of these characters reveal a deep understanding of how trauma can effect young people and shape their lives regardless of how their circumstances might change.  While the story is interesting and well-constructed it is these two characters, and a few others in the book (and its two sequels), that make the book(s) worth reading even in a literary world replete with similar offerings.

Author’s Brief Bio:  Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of Six of Crows (awarded starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, SLJ, and the BCCB) and the Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

Genre Designation: Fantasy YA Fiction

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Russian History
  • Mythology
  • Religion & Cults
  • Forms of government

Book Talk Ideas:  How do you know the difference between good and evil?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:


Why this book was selected. Very few books deal with mythology and culture other than European or Asian.  The idea of a book inspired by Russian history and mythology was very compelling.


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