The first installment in the Holiday Gift Ideas posts is a book that I talked all week to my 7th graders (and their teachers).
Title: Shadow & Bone
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Magic, Orphans, Abilities
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5
This is the first book in a planned trilogy by a debut author, and has also been optioned for a movie. Within the first few pages, you will know why. This book is such a treat: the writing is exquisite, the sense of place is magical and exotic, and the heroine is memorable.
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, an area of darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now Ravka's fate may rest with Alina, an orphan taken from obscurity and her only friend, Mal, when it is discovered that she is the mythical Sun Summoner who might be able to destroy the monsters in the Fold. She must train with the mysterious Darkling to join the magical Grisha.
Mal, handsome and competent, and Alina, are two young orphans who form an immediate bond. The story really begins when the two friends have joined the King’s Army and Alina is plucked from the ranks to join the Grisha, who train at the heart of the royal court.
The setting resembles Czarist Russia, the Darkling vaguely Rasputin-esque. Extravagance and deceit abound at court and Alina finds herself with allegiances on both sides. This is an engaging, captivating fantasy with a terrific supporting cast and amazing world building. Glad that I finally read this one, but sad that I have to wait for the next book!