"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."
This book falls in my top ten new favorite series. It's only the first book, and even though I have yet to read the rest of the series I know it's one of my favorites. The story is written in first person by Alina Starkov. She's scrawny, plain, not very good at many things. She feels awkward most of the time. The only thing that feels right in her life is Malyen Orestev, or as he's called Mal, her childhood friend. Both are orphans raised in a Duke's house. When they got old enough Mal joined the army and Alina became a map maker. Alina had fallen in love with Mal during some point in their life, and while Mal had grown into a handsome man, Alina stayed skinny and plain. Not expecting him to feel the same she kept her feelings to herself not wanting to lose him as her only friend.
The country is constantly threatened with war from the bordering countries, as well as being threatened by what people call The Fold. A dark stretch of land that is plagued in darkness and mutated birds dwell. As the army is crossing the Fold, the convoy is attacked and Mal is injured. In a moment of grief, Alina discovers that she is was is called a Grisha, and the only Sun Summoner. The discovery of her abilities means that she has a duty to serve the kingdom. She is taken back to the castle where she is trained to fight and use her ability under the impression that her power will destroy the Fold and bring about much-needed peace.
Alina misses Mal terribly, and after not hearing from him in months, she resigns that he has moved on and no longer cares for her friendship, and at the same time she develops feelings for a man called The Darkling, sort of the commander of the Grisha, and someone with massive power. Alina slowly learns that the people she has become closest to within the castle walls aren't who they claim to be.
Without giving too much (more) away I just have to say that this is a must read book. I mean for me, this book is right up there with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Such good writing and I normally don't care for books written in first person, but I really loved this book. I want the sequel in my hands right now. Alina is a great protagonist, and all the supporting characters are great. Fantastic debut novel by Bardugo, 500 stars!