“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.”
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.
Characters: I have to say that I did not like Alina when I started the book. I felt she was a bit annoying, that was until she was taken to the Little Palace. I have to say that I liked how strong she became and how she was determined to become powerful and useful to the Darkling. Though the Darkling is the villain of the story, I did feel that he and Alina had chemistry together, though he was just seducing her. I was beyond shocked when the real intentions of the Darkling were revealed. I really liked them together, but not as much as Alina and Mal. Now Mal, I liked his character development. I really did not think that Mal was going to win me over. He was introduced as this Don Juan type of guy who was extremely popular with everyone and I was feeling meh about him especially since he did not write back to Alina. But when he comes back into Alina’s life, I was far more intrigued. His confession to her was so sweet, and it was in that moment where he won my heart. Usually, I don’t like the love triangles, but I thought this one was very interesting. I loved the Darkling; I can’t seem to hate him despite being a villain. The secondary characters were interesting, I really liked Genya, and I wonder if she will become stronger in the second book.
Commentary: I kept seeing great reviews coming from this book series on both Tumblr. I haven’t read any books on Russian fantasy, so it was a very interesting to see how the author created this magical realm. I kept picturing the Little Palace as a boarding school. I loved the ball scene when Alina and the Darkling perform in front of the royals. Morozova’s stag reminded me of the deer from Princess Mononoke, even the death scene (maybe it’s just me). Near the ending of the book, I had no idea what was going to happen to Alina and Mal. I did not want Mal to die, and luckily he didn’t! I had no idea how Alina and Mal were going to escape the Darkling’s clutches when they were in the Fold, but that whole scene was amazing. I kept picturing Alina surrounded by beautiful light rescuing the guy she loves, that was my favorite part. I loved how Alina realizes that she has the power to break free from the Darkling. I did have a few problems with the book and that was some of the words. I wish the author had put a glossary in the back of the book just so I can easily look up the meaning of the words. Some parts did feel a little cliché, but those were just minor problems. I am really glad that this book met my expectations and I can’t wait to finish this series. Lastly, I read that this series will get a movie adaptation; I hope that when the movie comes to theaters, it does not flop, but instead satisfy fans of this series.
Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️