Alina Starkov never expected much from life. Raised in an orphanage and then drafted into the army as a simple solider and map maker, she accepts the simplicity of her life and even enjoys it when her best friend Mal is around. Then the two friends are sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a fog of terrible darkness filled with flying creatures who feast on human flesh.
When their ship is attacked and Mal’s life in danger, Alina unleashes a hidden power, not even she knew she had, to save them all. She is immediately swept away by the mysterious, alluring Darkling, leader of the magical elite known as Grisha. He believes that she may be the only person capable of destroying the fold and bringing back peace.
Without Mal by her side, Alina struggles to adjust to her new life of luxury and beauty. But as the threat grows and her connection to the Darkling deepens, she discovers that all is not as it seems.
First, I must give a big round of applause to author Leigh Bardugo because this book is awesome. Few young adult fantasies have captivated me like this one; I was pulled in from page one. The story feels so fresh and has an element of uniqueness from its roots in Russian folklore. I absolutely loved the Darkling – I’m a sucker for a sexy bad guy you love to hate. And, of course, Alina is a stellar character: strong, sincere and true-to-life.
The pace of the book is fabulous, moving along quickly with emotion, adventure and intrigue. Bardugo’s writing is pleasant and descriptive. With unexpected plot turns, gorgeous settings, nail-biting adventure and steamy romance, this book is a completely enjoyable read. I can’t wait for the rest of the trilogy.
Content note: One steamy kissing scene and some violence.
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