Before I started watching the Shadow and Bone Netflix series, I knew I wanted to read Leigh Bardugo’s books. They were on my radar when they came out but by then I was kind of burned out on YA fantasy (perish the thought!) Then over the summer, I started reading Sarah J. Maas’s fairy catnip situation (A Court of Thorns and Roses book series aka ACOTAR) which jumpstarted my dormant magical world-loving heart again. So I picked up the first Shadow and Bone book at the library and began plowing through both series. And this is where I write a book review mostly about another set of books.
The problem is that I don’t think that I should be reading both of these series at the same time. While I enjoy Bardugo’s Grishaverse, I have a GIANT reading crush on Maas’s ACOTAR books and ALL of the sexy fairy-winged shenanigans therein. Both rotate in sort of the same orbit of magic, darkness-dwelling baddies, and love triangles but the Grishaverse characters lack the depth of the ACOTAR gang and the writing isn’t nearly as rich. I can’t help but compare them since I’m reading them together. While these books are firmly planted in YA and the ACOTAR series is VERY ADULT (despite my library categorizing the first several as YA), I think we readers of YA know that the genre can be every bit as meaty and well written as any “adult” book. These three Grishaverse books, however, just don’t get there for me.
This is the last in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. At this point, if you haven’t read the books, you probably aren’t going to read a review about the last book in the trilogy. If you have read the books, you already know what happens. So, I’m not sure that I need a plot synopsis here. While I think the second book in the series was an improvement on the first, this third one was kind of meh. Too much time spent in a cave with a wildly creepy priest that smells like a graveyard. Same old fighting with the Darkling. Basically, a continuation of the “I have magic is it good or bad and will it consume me or save the world” that happens in the other two books. It’s like all of the ingredients are there but the stew needs a lot more salt (or spice because those ACOTAR books? Wowsa!) or at least some palpable chemistry for the two characters we are supposed to be shipping here. Give me Nikolai and send moody Mal back into the woods to track something. The exchanges between Nikolai and Alina are so much more interesting.
So my first review of the year is about as lackluster as the book was, I guess. I do have to say that it was a page-turner, but in retrospect, not for the right reasons. It became a “the action will pick up, right?” page flip rather than a “can’t wait to see what happens next” flip.
My understanding is that I have to read the Six Crows duology before watching the show and some of you CBR folk have indicated that those are better books. At least that’s encouraging. I am also very interested in the King of Scars books because, honestly, Nikolai was the best damn thing about this book series.