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June 9, 2021

Chaos Summer: Shadow and Bone and the end of Quarantine

by Alison DeLuca

Quarantine is definitely over. After we all got our vaccinations, our daughter's sports started back up with a vengeance and sent us to tournaments far afield. We spent one weekend in Maryland, and two others in a casino, all in the name of athletic competition. 

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We had to trade off one sport for another, sneaking in volleyball practice in between track meets. I brown-bagged meals, which my kid seized and ate as we drove to the next event.

At the same time, school also kicked back into full-throttle. We had AP tests, SAT tests, tutoring for both, and in-person classes.  The prom reappeared in all its glory and with all that it implies: hair, nails, and a dress. This meant shopping as well. 

All of this is incredibly normal for parents of teens, but coming from a quiet quarantine into sports and academics was like being launched out of a cannon. 

No longer could I research fun meals on Pinterest or practice my sewing machine skills while 40's jazz played in the background. No, those days are in the past. 

Let's just say I've spent a lot of time in parking lots and coffee shops lately, praying for enough broadband to download my next book  I've been looking for something addictive, a writer who could take me away from long hours in my car eating dinner that I bought at Walgreens. 

Thank goodness, then, for Leigh Bardugo, whom I encountered through Netflix.

poster for Shadow and Bone Netflix series

Netflix gave Shadow and Bone a miniseries, complete with good acting and beautiful costumes. I was hooked right away on Alina and Mal's relationship, as well as their adventures. As I watched, I remembered that I had Six of Crows in my Kindle, a book I bought on a whim and never read. 

One quick online search showed me that the Netflix series is a combination of Shadow and Bone plus the Six of Crows books. Each series shares Bardugo's Grishaverse, a world where different classes of Grisha can affect elements like water, air, or the human heart. They all live in a country divided by The Fold, a massive dark 'UnSea' inhabited with harpie-like monsters that eat people alive.

cover of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

As exciting as the action is, and it is riveting, I was fascinated by Bardugo's characters. Alina: who is much more than she seems. Mal, her best friend and one-sided love interest. The Darkling, who sees Alina like Mal never has. 

And that's just the start. Bardugo creates living, breathing people who draw you into their world, demanding that you keep reading to find out what happens between Alina and Mal, between Alina and the Darkling, to Genya and Zoya and Stormhound and a host of others.

And if Alina and Mal were interesting, the Crows fascinated me. Through an incredibly layered thieves' puzzle, I held my breath to find out more about Nina, Matthius, the amazing Inej, and above all, Kaz Brekker. 

cover of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

If you think these are a lot of names to follow, fear not. Each one is her or his own person, vital and damaged characters who made me care what happened to them on every level. Each one has an incredible backstory that made these young heroes and thieves come vividly to life.

If Bardugo is an artist with characters, she is a maestro of chaos. Shadow and Bone is exciting, but the Six of Crows duology takes it to soaring heights. Again and again, I thought the Crows had succeeded, only for yet another disaster to hit in an escalating spiral of ever-more complex puzzles and plots.

Her formula works in both the Netflix miniseries and the written word.

In the midst of my crazy schedule, it took Bardugo's controlled chaos to give me an escape. A refuge, a place where I wanted to find out what happened next. 

If you like exciting adventures and incredible characters, Bardugo's books serve both up in style. And, as you're reading this summer - good luck with your chaos, whatever it may be. 

Buy Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows at Amazon

Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey. You can find her at 

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  1. My daughter (age 20) and I are past the athletics/dance/tutoring phase of life, but boy do I remember it well. It was exhausting!