I was vaguely not-interested in Shadow and Bone after reading a couple of negative reviews, which I think particularly mentioned the Russian influences and then overall not-Russian-at-all, fairly typical fantasy world setting. This is true, and if it’s something that will bother you, then yes, steer clear. However… I picked this up from the library at five o’ clock, walked to the station, got the train home, walked up the hill home, mostly without reading… and by six o’ clock, had got two thirds of the way through the book anyway. It was a fast read, and it was compelling.
Now granted, yeah, there’s some typical YA stuff going on — there’s a love triangle, for one. It came across quite well for me, though. I think it helped that Mal and Alina have such a clear bond, which has been confused in realistic ways as they grew up. And the Darkling has an obvious allure, and you can see why people trust him, want to be near him. I like the development of Alina’s powers, and her interactions with people around her. For a book with a guy called the Darkling and a main character who is a “Sun Summoner”, there’s a fair amount of ambiguity going on — there are several characters who don’t clearly align on a good/bad matrix.
Overall… I don’t quite know why I enjoyed this so much. Probably it matched my mood, in part, and it wasn’t a challenging read, while I wasn’t in a great mood. I’ll be interested to see how I react to the second and third books.