Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
The first thing I loved about the book is the world it is set in. It is sort of tsar Russia, with these witch-like individuals, who can reach into the essence of a thing. The classifications of the Grisha was pretty interesting, and the hierarchy of their system lends to a very conflicted society. On one hand, they use the Grisha but also hate them. The Darkling was of course the most interesting character for me (more so because I read the prequel novellas first) and I am still wondering how much of him was real in that first half. Alina was also different, and the way she comes into her power is reminiscent of Snow White and the Huntsman – I swear I had flashbacks. Mal, well – I am still on the fence about him, since this book felt pretty short and he wasn’t much in it. The characters definitely make this series interesting, with such varied and complex picks like Genya, and Ivan. I was not wowed completely (this series is so hyped that I had BIG expectations) but I am definitely into it.