19 Thoughts When Reading: Shadow and Bone | Leigh Bardugo


Following on from the triumph that was 19 Thoughts when Reading: Throne of Glass, I’m back with another few thoughts on another fantasy novel. Yay! I like these posts. They’re fun to write.

I won’t lie; Shadow and Bone was slightly more ‘meh’ than I’d expected. I mean, a novel about Russian folklore and witches and pterodactyls (sort of) should be pretty amazing right? I feel like Leigh Bardugo missed a few opportunities though… although I can’t exactly explain what. Anyway, here’s a stream of consciousness that went through my head as I read Shadow and Bone.


1. Aw, ickle orphans having a lovely childhood. Cute prologue.

2. Eurgh. I’m sensing a case of unrequited love that is less unrequited, more miscommunicated.

3. Anyone else imagine the volcra as pterodactyls? It kind of makes them not-really-scary.

4. Tell me, is Kefta a made up word that only exists in Ravka, or is it a real-life Russian word? I’m confused.

5. Oh yes, deliberately antagonising your captors sounds like a perfect idea, Alina. Who should we upset next? The scary bear killer? Or the guy who can cut people in half with just his mind?

6. Wow. The whole plastic-surgeon-grisha bit has me scared. WHY IS IT IMPERATIVE THAT WITCHES LOOK PRETTY? And why is Alina so super-stressed about being a babe? Isn’t it enough that she’s got powers?

7. I feel like I’m supposed to be shocked at the corruption of the Ravkan King… I’m not. I’m just a bit bored.

8. Aw, poor Genya. Poor, misused Genya.

9. So now Alina misses Mal. Why didn’t she miss him before? I’m finding her Mal-love a little confusing, to be honest… when she forgets about him, she releases her power. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

10. Basically NOTHING happens in the middle of the book, other than the introduction of a bitchy girl (has nothing to do with the plot so far) and a MASSIVE training montage. I’m pretty sure I’ve read this several times before…

11. Epic light show is epic. And the subsequent secret kisses are kind of hot, I guess.


13. Ooooh, bad guy is bad. There’s a shocker.

14. Tell me, Alina: why is it perfectly acceptable to be attracted to someone who is 120 years old, but not someone who is ANCIENT? That’s a little hypocritical, don’t you think?

15. Note to self: DO NOT TAKE RUNNING AWAY TIPS FROM THIS GIRL. Get in a fight with soldiers who are looking for you and then show off your dazzling mirror skills? Nope. Not a good idea.

16. Hmmm… so now they’re about to die, they can admit that they love each other. Because, you know, in a book about immortal witches, we need more drama.

17. Ooooh, that Darkling is SOOOO mean. Why does he keep kissing her? (Also, Alina’s speech about serving him gladly is basically lifted from Tangled. Anyone else notice that?)

18. BRB, sobbing hysterically.

19. Aaaand now everyone is dead (I can tell you already, they’re not).


So, basically, Shadow and Bone has a whole host of memorable characters; a forgettable love triangle (of course!); and a REALLY whiny narrator. Here’s hoping Siege and Storm has less romance and more witches!


Have you read Shadow and Bone? How did the Russian-ness of the setting work for you? Oh, if you had a grisha power, what would it be? I reckon I’d be a fire-summoner… mostly because setting fire to things sounds fun. (Secret pyromaniac, maybe?)


  1. skinnystalker May 9, 2015

    I totally agree about the theme of love in this book, or should I say all of the three books? Alina’s character frustrated me and her love then hate relationship with Mal annoyed me so much. She claims to love him, then suddenly she wants to be kissed by this handsome prince arrgh. Anyway, I liked the trilogy, it wasn’t the best book ever, but I certainly enjoyed all of the books. My review here. http://skinnystalker.com/grisha-trilogy-slowly-falling-in-love/


    • I agree. It’s not amazing, but it’s not terrible – it’s actually pretty readable. I’ve just seen it around so much that I kind of assumed it WOULD be incredible, and the fact that it’s not is a disappointment, to say the least.
      Thank you for stopping by – I’ll be sure to check out your link soon!
      Beth x

  2. Oh,dear,I am sorry you didn’t enjoy this book much!I myself loved it,especially the world building and of course,The Darkling.I hope that you like the sequel more-if you try it:)
    Anyway,thanks for stopping by my blog!I know I am really late,but I am just catching up with comments:)

    • I’ve heard that the sequel is MUCH better, so I am kind of intrigued to try it. It’s nice to know that you enjoyed it – sometimes I feel I’m all doom-and-gloom and hating books, so it’s good to hear that someone is a bit more positive than me!
      Beth x

  3. I’ve seen this book around for awhile now, and obviously, it’s on my TBR. It’s too bad you didn’t enjoy it that much, but hopefully the sequel will give you a much better experience!

  4. Shanti May 10, 2015

    I won’t lie: I really liked this book. But I like the other books much better. Love triangles are so obvious, and I know what you mean about the relationships being quite average. I liked the Russian setting as well, but I agree that how someone looks should NEVER NEVER NEVER be a focus. It is, even in the hunger games. I would love to be able to heal, but not in a heartrender way. Read Seige and Storm because: Sturmhond ( who I love with all my heart)

    • The Russian setting was the saving grace of Shadow and Bone for me. I LOVED it, but I would have appreciated more of an emphasis on that, rather than then very mundane romance element. I’ll keep my eye out for Seige and Storm though – it’s not a series I want to give up on yet!
      Beth x

  5. Nova @ Out of Time May 11, 2015

    LOLOL i actually cannot tell if you like this book from your thoughts XD Nevertheless, I loved reading them <3 I really loved this book, despite the sort of love triangle. The Darkling is probably my favorite villain, EVER. [Or maybe it's Voldemort, i'm still debating haha]

    LOVE this post <3

    • To be honest, I’m not entirely sure whether I loved Shadow and Bone or disliked it either! I think mostly I was filled with an overwhelming sense of ‘meh’. I was expecting a lot, and what I got was a very readable – but not particularly unique – novel about a Russian special snowflake. But yeah, The Darkling was a pretty good character!
      Beth x

  6. This made me laugh so hard, especially the part about the pterodactyls (because YES, that is exactly what was in my head too!) and the kefta- I seriously googled it! But I love the Russian-ness, because Russia is fascinating in general, and then when I reviewed it, I was able to throw a picture of a bunch of Russian tchotchkes in the review! Ole!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! Note to self: when I write a bestselling book, DON’T include pterodactyls and expect people to be scared… it doesn’t work. But DO apparently include Russian-ness, because it’s fascinating. Good advice, huh?
      Beth x

  7. Lola May 11, 2015

    I own a copy of this book, but haven’t read it. I am hopign I’ll enjoy it as the concept sounds good and the cover is pretty. But after reading your post I am a bit more hesistant, many people seem to love this series, but i also see more reviews of people who thought it was meh. I don’t mind love triangle’s, but I want them to be interesting.

    • It’s not a bad book (I feel all of my comments should be prefaced with this at the moment because apparently I am being moody and mean in my reviews), but it just didn’t really work for me. Personally, I think the plot could have been a it deeper – I still don’t really understand what the Grisha do, or why the Darkling is dark, or why Mal suddenly hearts Alina – so another hundred pages would have improved it for me. I LIKE DETAILS!!
      Beth x

  8. Heather May 12, 2015

    Oh, the purple one! I have the gray cover, and it is beautiful to me anyway. I don’t actually imagine the volcra as dinosaurs… like, especially having read other things I kind of imagine them as blobby dementors with claws and teeth that are almost like a solid void. I don’t know where I got that but that is me. XD I do love this series, even though there’s the love… um… well, triangle is the wrong word now, isn’t it. We’ll just move right along past the shape of the romance that sometimes isn’t even romance, and I will say that I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, Grisha, and the various religious/socio-political events, because they are fun to read about.

    I would be a Darkling if I could be, but I can’t be, so I won’t be. Sadness.

    I know that a lot of people have found this to be a mediocre book… I don’t know why I love it… but I do. Very, very do.

    • Haha, blobby dementors sound about as scary as pterodactyls (Read: not at all scary).
      And really, you don’t have to justify why you love a book, Heather. If you love it, that’s marvellous (no one uses that word enough!). if you hate it, that’s fine. OWN YOUR BOOK-LOVE, girl!!
      Beth x


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