Bardugo. Leigh. 2012. SHADOW AND BONE. New York, NY: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0805094596 [Suggested Grade Levels 8 – 12]
Bardugo’s novel is one of those rare fantasy novels that entices the realistic fiction readers to cross over. The reader is guided through the fantasy world of Ravka by Alina, a down-to-earth main character who has many of the same concerns, fears, love, and self-doubt that young adults face on a daily basis. While Alina is capable of using magic and deals with the unusual, she maintains her uniquely strong character that young readers can relate to.
Bardugo created a fantasy world reminiscent of old Russia yet uniquely filled with elaborate details, fascinating characters, and a taste of magic. In this world is the Shadow Fold, an evil darkness that has rendered Ravka in two with its darkness and flesh eating monsters. Yet Alina, who has not really been good at anything, finds that she has the magic necessary to bring light to this darkness and begins her training as a Grisha, someone who can rid Rivka of the Shadow Fold.
This first book of a series will leave the reader anticipating the next. Just as the world of Ravka contains a magic based on the natural world, this book contains a magic based upon a reader’s imagination. Alina rings true with her self-doubts and the reader will finish this book feeling as if he or she has walked next to Alina through this magical world.
This book would work well when taking an in-depth look into the use of contrast as part of a story’s structure; good versus evil, light versus dark, etc.
Other books with a young female protagonist:
Hartman, Rachel. SERAPHINA. ISBN 9780375866562
Aguirre, Ann. ENCLAVE. ISBN 9780312650087
By Christine J. Rayl