Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two.
“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time,every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.”
This book has been on my TBR list since it first came out. It was initially published back in 2012, and only now, at the very end of 2016 did I get a chance to finally read it. This is actually the case with a lot of other books that I have been meaning to read for years and just never got the chance to. Whether it was because I could never find a copy of the book to buy or borrow, or too many books that I wanted to read came out around the same time and I ended up forgetting about them until the next time I saw it again. Either way, I’m just glad that I was able to finally get my hands on the entire series and start with the first book.
One of the first things that I noticed when I was reading this book was the Russian influence in it. Granted, when I really felt like I was in some sort of alternate universe Russia, I took some time to read one of the reviews on GoodReads where it basically said that Bardugo didn’t do her proper research on Russian culture and messed up on some things throughout her book. If you want to read more about it, just let me know, or a quick search on GoodReads under the review section of this book, and I’m sure you will find it the same way that I did. Either way, since I read any bonus material until after I finished the book, it was at least nice to have it confirmed that I wasn’t going crazy, and that the reason why I felt like I was in some sort of Russian world was because Bardugo made it that way. If you haven’t read it before, the moment you look at the map, you’ll see what I mean.
This was definitely an exciting book for me to end the year with. Honestly, I don’t even want to read another book until the new year starts so that I can end 2016 with a really good story. It was one of the books that I just could not put down, and I really wish that I could have started this book sooner. Years sooner.
To start, Alina and Mal are both orphans, who grew up together under the care of a rich Duke that liked to adopt other orphans. I honestly don’t know if it was a play to be popular among the people, or if he genuinely didn’t want any of these orphans to grow up alone. It wasn’t like they didn’t have to earn their keep. They were working along with the rest of the house servants, as if he was just adding to his personal work force but didn’t have to give them money. I still can’t tell, especially when Alina ends up seeing him again sometime later. Well, Alina and Mal end up growing up together and end up serving in the First Army together, with Mal being an excellent tracker and Alina being a somewhat good cartographer. Well, their unit was sent to cross into the Shadow Fold, this extremely dark curse on the land that is filled with man eating creatures named volcra. Mostly anyone who has tried to cross the Fold winds up torn to pieces.
So when Alina and Mal are forced to cross over with members of the First and Second Army, it should come as no surprise when they get attacked and almost die. In fact, they would have died if it wasn’t for Alina, and that’s where the story really begins.
The Darkling, such a mysterious character that you don’t know whether to trust or run away from, ends up taking Alina under his wing, trying to make her stronger so that she can save her war torn country and bring peace to the lands. But is that really what his end goal is? His beautiful eyes and merciless behavior both draws people in and keeps them at bay. Even Alina can’t seem to resist his pull, and a part of her wants to be by his side, almost like the Darkling’s queen. With the Darkling as the most powerful Grisha in existence and Alina… well on the verge of becoming something great, there really wouldn’t be anything to stop them. But are they good or bad?
Will they save the world, or destroy it?
The different twists in this book had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t put this book down except to go to sleep and go to work. It was amazing. The world was one that I could really see in my mind, and Alina and Mal are two of my favorite characters in the entire book. I also liked another character, Genya, which if you’re someone like me, you’d like her too. I can’t wait to continue this series. My review probably didn’t sound like much of a review, but trust me when I say that I thoroughly enjoyed this ride.
Rated: 5/5 ★