If you open a book and the first thing you see is a map showing the four Kingdoms then it's probably a safe bet that you are about to read a Fantasy. Shadow and Bone has the intro maps, but it turns out it's more YA Fantasy Lite than full on Fantasy.
It's got the four kingdoms at war with each other and the hard to pronounce place names, it has a medieval overall feel to it and a bit of 'magical abilities' (or small science as it's known here) and at it's center it has the 'special one' who is actually quite plain at the start and who must save the world. Yep, that'll be a fantasy then.
It's quite a good story and it kept me interested throughout but I wasn't as sucked into the story as the hype surrounding the book led me to expect. It's maybe just that it's age appropriate for a YA audience and I'm no longer YA.
It's set in what can only be described as a boarding school, complete with mean girls, crushes on an older authority figure, bad tempered teaching staff and teenage angst regarding body image. There's a love story in there somewhere too with a touch of 'love triangle' going on but all is not what it seems so don't be put off by that, if those kind of things bother you. The story itself is quite good and the pace is just right.
I liked the story well enough and will probably read the next one, I'm just not in a mad rush to get to it.
Note: I received a free copy of this title from the publisher.