By Ashly Moore Sheldon • April 19, 2021
The discovery of a previously unknown power is, of course, a staple of YA coming-of-age fantasies. But when done well, it never gets old. Shadow and Bone, volume one of the bestselling trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, is a shining example of this scenario with the story of Alina Starkov, a teenage war orphan whose life is transformed when she unexpectedly displays an extraordinary ability she never knew she had in order to save her best friend. Now the book is coming to the small screen in a new Netflix series premiering on April 23.
The emergence of Alina's singular gift propels her into the top tier of the Grisha, a sect of magical beings who wield a diverse set of powers in service to the realm. The saga is set in a nation called Ravka, which resembles the old world Russia of fairy tales. This world is rich and complex, yet familiar. Before the emergence of her power, Alina seems just an ordinary girl, harboring a secret crush on her best friend Mal, the boy she grew up with. But the revelation of her ability to summon light changes everything in an instant. Alina's story is continued in books two and three of the trilogy: Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising.
Bardugo's duology Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom expands the Grishaverse with the story of criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker and his crew of six dangerous outcasts attempting a nearly impossible heist that promises wealth beyond their wildest dreams. The setting of these bestsellers is Ketterdam, a city loosely inspired by Amsterdam.
Bardugo's most recent installment, the duology, King of Scars and Rule of Wolves, returns to Ravka and a dashing, young king, Nikolai Lantsov, who seeks to revitalize his wartorn country and fortify the ranks of the weakened Grisha army.
If you love the fairy-tale qualities of the Grishaverse and are looking for more dark, emotional, and action-filled fantasies, check out any of these captivating YA novels—most of which are the first in a series.