Summary from Goodreads:
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
This book was on my immediate tbr pile and when Bianca needed me to help her pick a book to read I suggested we read this one together. Since I’m pretty sure Bianca and I feel completely different about this book I think separate reviews can work in this case.
This book has been on my shelf even before it was released and I just never got around to reading it. Now that the entire series is out (I love that because I can read them all back to back without forgetting pieces of the previous stories) I wanted to read the first book since everyone was getting emotional over the ending book in the series and raving about the series as a whole. I also was interested in this book because I don’t read that many YA fantasy books.
The story starts off simple enough by introducing the world that Mal and Alina live in. I really liked the setting of this story because it moved to so many new and interesting places to learn about. They started in a house that was converted for orphans to live in, then they are on trails to the fold, then in the fold, then at the palace, in the surrounding countryside and mountains. I loved all of the changes in the setting because it made you realize how vast the world was and I have to say that at certain points I was so impressed with Bardugo’s world building that my mind compared it to Harry Potter style world building for a moment. I have never found a world I love as much as HP and to say that Bardugo captured my attention with this right from the start is amazing and deserves praise all in itself.
The next thing is that I really liked both characters from the start. I knew from the start that Mal and Darkling were going to be pulling at my heart and throughout the book that is exactly what happened but I don’t want you fellow readers to get scared, sure there is another love triangle going on but this one just feels worth it. I loved how Mal and Darkling are two different guys and they each in a small way represent the different sides of Alina. I struggled a few times with Alina because she was a little unsure of herself at times but I feel the author did turn her into a likeable character who certainly came into her own by the end of the story.
Overall, there was great world building, good characters that I need to know more about, and there are some heavy twists and turns that will leave you wanting more. I’m eager to see where this series is headed because I know I’m going to stick around for more of this YA fantasy book that feels at times more mature.