TITLE: Shadow and Bone: The Grisha Triology
AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo
PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
LENGTH: 386 pages
SUMMARY: (via leighbardugo.com) 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.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
BRIDGE: Using Shadow and Bone in the classroom could be done in two different ways. It has all the characteristics of a classic fantasy: detailed world building, mysterious magical powers, medieval-like setting, battle between light and dark/good and evil. Bardugo has created a new paragon of the fantasy genre and the book also follows a classic Hero’s Cycle. In both cases, the best use of the book would be in Literature Circles.
Shadow and Bone could be used as an exemplar text for the fantasy genre. Students can analyze the elements of fantasy present in Bardugo’s book and compare it to other titles in the genre. Creating a master chart of the characteristics of fantasy and including Bardugo’s book along with other fantasy titles will help cement those characteristics in the minds of students. As a culminating activity, students could blend elements from the different titles delineated on the chart to create an original fantasy story. This could be completed individually or in groups.
Alina’s story could also be read and mapped as it follows the traditional Hero’s Cycle. Again, choosing multiple titles that also follow the Hero’s Cycle, students can compare the subtle nuances authors make to the traditional archetype. This book could be paired with traditional titles like The Odyssey or Beowulf or with more modern classic titles like Huckleberry Finn.
READERS: Fantasy fans will fall in love with Ravka and the world Bardugo has created. This book will appeal to male and female readers alike because even though the narrator is a girl, there is quite a bit of action which more typically draws in male readers. Because it’s high fantasy, fans of magic will be happy but there’s an underlying cultural element because of the Russian references that will entice fans of culturally based storylines.
OTHER TITLES: Readers who enjoy Shadow and Bone might also enjoy Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, or The Seventh Tower series by Garth Nix.