Alina and Mal, orphans who grew up together, are sent to serve in the army. When Alina discovers that she possesses special powers that exceed her map-making skills, she’s thrust into the world of Grishas – an elite group of magical people. Everyone believes that Alina’s powers will rid them of the Shadow Fold, a spreading darkness where monsters live & attack all those that dare to cross through it. She struggles to get through to Mal, where he continues to serve in the army as a tracker, but finds it increasingly difficult when The Darkling, leader of the Grisha, takes her under his wing and seduces her with a taste of power.
I remember starting this book ages ago when it first came out and was completely captivated with Alina & Mal’s story – however at that time, I got sidetracked to read something else and never got around to picking it back up – until now. I’m so glad that Jenn and I decided to read this for our Brunch Book Club, giving me a chance to finally get back to it.
The Russian/Siberian setting of this novel gave a really refreshing environment to place these characters in. There haven’t been many books I’ve read that take place in this locale, and those that I have read are all more historical fiction that have to do with – say – the Romanovs. Bardugo has created a very elaborate and detailed world where magic, monsters and darkness exist together. I felt the middle section of the book at times felt a bit lagging, where the momentum was high and fast-paced where it seemed to abruptly come to a bit of a halt for me. That being said, I loved the revelations and uncertainty to many of the characters – never knowing where they stand. Alina’s introduction into the Grisha world reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games‘ Katniss where she’s got a team of helpers that lead her into this new environment.
A lot happens in this first book and I’m very thoroughly intrigued to see where the story takes us on the subsequent books in this series. Good thing the other books are already out! The one benefit of waiting so long to get to a book is that the rest of the series is already out and I don’t have to wait longingly for them.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4 /5 stars)
Available: June 5, 2012
Goodreads | Book Depository | Chapters Indigo
Read as part of Brunch Book Club with Lost in a Great Book.
Wrap up discussion to follow in the coming week.