Oh, before I go into this review, this was originally published in the UK as The Gathering Dark (which is the copy I have) but due to the movie rights being bought by Dreamworks and David Heyman (yes, the producer of the Harry Potter movies), Indigo decide to change the title and the cover to what it is in the US - Shadow and Bone. So, if I slip and write A Gathering Dark, please forgive me.
The Shadow Fold is slowly destroying the land of Ravka. An impenetrable darkness which has terrifying creatures. While trying to cross the land through the darkness, Alina does something no-one thought was possible. Something she didn't even know she could do. Which makes all the Grisha look at her with new hope, and the powerful Grisha of them all, the Darkling, thinks she could change the world forever. As she is taken away into a new life, she can't let her old life go. She can't let go of Mal...
Now, my To Read pile seems to be lacking full-blown fantasy (you guys can have a look, if you fancy. Maybe I should take a pic and show you in the near future) so to have this lacking in there was a nice surprise to read. One of the reasons I have stayed away from this is because of the hype. Oh, the hype! That and everyone's reaction to this book. Everyone gushing and loving it and going "It's so Russian in feel!". I seem to be now making it a rule that if a book I want to read is OVER-HYPED, I am going to give it a few months for it to calm the heck down then read it.
So, my feelings on the book. I'm kinda mixed on it.
Ok, let's go with all the positives. I was really surprised on this book. I thought it would be full-blown action, magic and love. And it was much slower. It took it's time and I enjoyed the pacing of the book. And, because of this, the slow character building. I love me some character building. And because of this slow character building and, up to a point, world building, it was interesting to discover this new world as Alina finds herself in. And the humour. Oh, Alina has quick, snarky moments and it just works. No matter how dark and twisted it got, Alina could say something that you smile at.
The relationship between her and Mal & the Darkling. Now that was one of those things that kept me reading. With both her suitors, you understood where she was coming from. But... I felt more one way than the other (less said, the better on this front).
I feel I have to go into the negatives now or I will start ranting in the positives. First of all, people saying "This book feels set in Russia". Really? Was it? If it was, I completely missed it. Maybe that was because for a good half of the book, I kept saying "geisha" for "Grisha" and I had to tweet the author how to pronounce it. But it never felt Russia-set to me. It never felt like something from Russian mythology.
Another thing that bothers me is... ok, let's talk reader to reader now. Have you ever read a book and, even though I really liked it, there's something about it - something you can't quite put your finger on - that makes you not love it? Well, I feel like that with this book. I liked it, but I didn't love it like everyone else on the Internet, and I don't know why. I get why most of you love this book and I am glad my other half told me to read this book, but... I don't know. There's something about it that stops me from loving this book.
So, will I get the sequel? Maybe. But I won't be a huge rush for it. If I don't read it, then I won't read it. But I am intrigued over where the story will go next so I might go out and get the next installment, Siege and Storm... But as I'm sitting on the fence with this, my advice to you all is just go for it. Try this read and see if you like it. If you do, GREAT! If not, then at least you tried (even if you only read 50 pages). Just try it. You never know...