Shadow and Bone: First Impressions

Hey, look! It’s the start of a new recap project! And this time there’s tons of international covers for me to compare! (Well, kinda. Most of them look the same, and the translated titles are boring.) So follow me after the cut for the start of not!Russian fun!

Before I go on, though, I gotta get into the right mindset:

  • One week’s supply of kvass (check!)
  • Giant bottle of vodka (check!)
  • One week’s supply of vareniki (check!)
  • One Soviet postcard from the Hermitage (check!)
  • One rookie action figure of my favorite Russian goalie (check!)
  • Hockey jersey signed by aforementioned Russian goalie (check!)

OK. I think I’m ready.

Shadow and Bone has long been on my radar. It’s been recommended a couple of times for recap bait, and it’s been in my to-read pile for a few years. I read it at some point last year and realized why you all suggested it: it combined my obsession with Russian Stuff with a half-decent story. And I got to translate Eastern European languages, too! So that’s a win in my book.

Now, hopefully I won’t get bad flashbacks to the last time I tried recapping a Russian-themed fantasy. For those of you who don’t remember, I got bored while working on my Avalon recaps and tried covering a little-known YA fantasy series called KaterinaI then deleted the entire recap because I got fed up with the Russian romanizations and how stupid the characters were. You can see my complete rant (and an entire paragraph on how not to spell the name “Evgeni”) here.


I hate to say this, but this won’t be much of a Cover Comparison. 90% of the covers for this series are basically the US cover with a foreign title. I’m only going to post the US one with its pretty onion-domed palace and Plot Important white deer antlers because scrolling through variations on the same image would be dull. Here’s a nifty list of international title translations, though:

  • Bulgarian: Shadow and Bone
  • Dutch: Shade and Shadow (“shade” as in “ghost” in this case)
  • Hungarian: Shadow and Bone
  • Indonesian: Shadow and Bone (they don’t even bother to translate the title from English)
  • Lithuanian: Shadow and Bone
  • Portuguese: Shadow and Bone or Light and Shadow (there’s two editions)
  • Romanian: Kingdom of Shadows
  • Spanish: Shadow and Bone
  • Turkish: Shadow and Bone


Now, the Germans were awesome and created their own covers for this series. The first cover has a cool watercolor girl and a Plot Important white deer; the second is a rather boring girl in gold. The title translates to Golden Flames, which is appropriate for our Protagonist’s Super Special Magical Power.


The UK also gets a different cover, this time depicting a scene from the book. So expect our Protagonist to run through a forest at some point. Also note that the title has changed to The Gathering Dark, which is appropriate for rather spoilery reasons.


I like this Italian cover with the silhouette of a sword-bearing girl in a forest. Unfortunately, I forget if our Protagonist ever carried a sword in this book. Also, note all the animal silhouettes: those are the Magic Amplifying McGuffins our Protagonist collects throughout the series. The title translates to Darkness and Ice, which I guess is appropriate for a book with sorcerers combating a wall of physical darkness in not!Russia.


The Swedish edition gives us another variation on Protagonist and Plot Important white deer. Like the German edition, the translated title — Power in the Light — refers to our Protagonist’s Super Special Magical Power.


The French edition tries for something different: it depicts the Protagonist’s Magic Amplifying McGuffin from the end of the book. The title translates to The Orphans of the Kingdom, which I guess describes our Protagonist and the army of sorcerers she eventually joins.


The Polish cover one-ups the French cover by adding an onion dome palace to the McGuffin. If you look closely, you can see the title in Russian, too! Unfortunately, both are just straight translations of Shadow and Bone.


The Danish cover goes for a more minimalist take on onion-dome palace and Magic Amplifying McGuffin. The title here translates to The Girl and the Dusk.


The Greeks decided to go for a more vibrant take on Protagonist in the forest. No Plot Important white deer, though. Once again, the title is a straight translation of Shadow and Bone.


This Vietnamese cover with the stylized depiction of our Protagonist’s abilities superimposed over an onion dome palace is pretty cool. The title is a very literal translation from English: Shadows and White Bones.


The Japanese edition shows a manga-style version of our Protagonist and her Super Special Magic Power. Unlike the other editions, the title is actually a translation of our Protagonist’s character class: The Sun Summoner.


And, lastly, here’s the Hebrew edition, which does a bold, minimalist take on the onion domed palace and our Protagonist. Surprise, surprise — the title is another straight translation of Shadow and Bone.

Here’s what to expect from this recap:

  • Translations of Russian words!
  • Character names written in Cyrillic!
  • Me complaining about Russian romanization!
  • An explanation on how Russian names work!
  • How Not to Spell “Evgeni,” Part Two: Electric Boogaloo!
  • RPG character sheets!
  • A world map!
  • Pictures of Russian icons!
  • Witty recap titles! (Yes! They return! Because the chapters in this book aren’t titled!)

Next time: A Protagonist and her Love Interest are introduced.



  1. Earlier today I was looking around at a local bookstore called Once Upon a Time, mostly a place for children and YA books, and I found an autographed boxset of this trilogy with a large folding map included. I couldn’t remember you’re recapping the first novel at the time and thought it sounded kind of interesting so I made a note of it. So I was surprised when I decided to visit your blog and found you’re recapping it! Now I might want to get it sometime and follow along, but that will have to be later; I’ve already got a lot of winter reading now.

    1. An autographed boxset with a world map? Awesome find! I have a weakness for world maps in fantasy and sci-fi books.

      Is Once Upon a Time the one in Montrose? I might have to check that out when I’m in LA next week.

      1. Yes, that’s the place. Fun little store. It’s been there for as long as I can remember, although the store has physically moved around. They do a lot of signings there. Might be a fun Christmas gift to yourself if it’s still available.

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