Orphaned, alone, and forced to serve in the service of her king, the only comfort Alina Starkov enjoys is the friendship of fellow orphan and soldier, Mal. However, once Alina’s hidden power is discovered, she is ripped away from her best friend and secret love in order to become a Grisha, a powerful magic-wielding unit of the king’s army. Surrounded by luxury she’s never known, Alina quickly becomes the Grisha leader’s, the Darkling’s, favorite, and must attempt to see beyond the breathless, mysterious intrigue of court life in order to save both her world, and herself.
Bardugo’s novel is a mix of fantasy and romance, set in what feels like sweeping imperialist Russia. It’s awesome. The magical elements are intriguing without being so overdone that they’re completely unbelievable, and the characterization is extremely rich. After reading this, I definitely wanted to run away and become a Grisha. My one criticism of the book is that I feel like Alina is always being led by/controlled by a male character, and I really wanted to see her take charge of her own life. You might not agree with me though! In all, an excellent beginning of Bardugo’s series that you will want to read in one sitting. If you like it, look for the second (Siege and Storm) and third (Ruin and Rising, coming June!) installments.
This one has a great book trailer! Click here to watch.
For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.