Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Author Leigh Bardugo is on the forefront of the Tsarpunk genre. What’s Tsarpunk, you say? I asked the same thing, and thankfully Leigh has an answer here. Essentially, it’s a fantasy style that draws inspiration from Russian history and/or culture. But as soon as you start Shadow and Bone you’ll figure out that, at least in this case, Tsarpunk equals heartpounding action and a healthy dose of intrigue.

Alina and Mal are orphans, raised together until they are eligible for military service. Alina can’t imagine being parted from Mal, but when their unit begins a treacherous crossing through the mysterious, crushing darkness of the Shadow Fold, the unthinkable happens. When they are suddenly brought under attack by horrific beasts, Alina discovers a hidden power she never knew she had. Desperate to save her friend, she unknowingly summons a brilliant flash of light to blind the creatures. Alina is a Grisha, one of a small group of people with extraordinary talents for transforming matter.

But Alina is no ordinary Grisha. She is a Sun Summoner, gifted with unparalleled powers and potential. Taken under the wing of the Darkling, the mysterious Grisha leader, Alina is trained to use her skills to fight the darkness of the Shadow Fold. But the more she learns, the further she is drawn from everything she once knew, including Mal. Ultimately, she must make the choice between the promise of the Darkling’s power and the pull of her own heart.

If you take this book to the beach, be prepared not to step foot in the water. You won’t want to let it out of your hands! Hats off to Leigh Bardugo—she keeps the plot moving and the action coming, all the while developing characters we can actually care about. And, no spoilers, but there are some pretty awesome twists and turns to keep you guessing. Perfect for vacation down time!

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo; Henry Holt (Macmillan); 17.99; Ages 12+

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