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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Shadow and Bone

I picked up Shadow and Bone Friday night when I realized that I would get to see the author, Leigh Bardugo, at the Austin Teen Festival on Saturday. Despite feeling under the weather, I read half of it Friday night and the rest last night after returning from Austin. Hands down, it is the best fantasy novel I have read in a long time. It reads like a movie - which is awesome considering it is going to be made into one. I really hope they don't stray from the original story which is filled with sorcery, good, evil, love, and loss – no Hollywood enhancements needed here. The setting is the harsh mountainous Russian landscape at the height of war which has left the region divided. Alina and Mal, orphaned children refugees, are taken in by a Duke and raised together. The two become inseparable. The Grisha, a powerful group of sorcerers and healers, come to test Alina and Mal. When they both fail to show signs of being Grisha, they are sent to serve in the King’s army. During a hopelessly dangerous mission to cross the Shadow Fold, a deathly stretch of water that must be crossed to hunt for valuable resources, their regiment is attacked by flying lethal creatures called Volcra which seek human flesh and blood. When all seems lost and Mal is seriously injured, Alina sees a flash of white light and passes out. The surviving soldiers realize that she has special powers that only the Grisha can possess. They bring her to the Darkling, the handsome powerful leader of the Grisha, and he takes her to the kingdom to learn how to enhance her magic. He needs it to defeat the Fold and save the people. Things are not what they seem. Will Alina be able to use her gift for good or will evil prevail? Can Alina stand up to the Darkling’s affections and fight to be reunited with Mal, the boy who knows her better than anyone? Book two, Siege and Storm, comes out in 2013.

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