Author: Leigh Barduco
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Summary: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
I found this world to be one of my favorites I’ve read about in a while. The whole atmosphere of this land was just kind of bleak and dark and gritty and I really enjoyed that. The book starts off with this girl Alina, who is in an army with her childhood friend Mal, that she is now in love with, and they are marching towards some horrible dark place called The Fold where they are all expecting to be killed. By horrible flying monsters. Who live in total darkness. Because that’s what The Fold is. Spooky. Anyways so monsters are swooping down and eating everyone and she is about to die and suddenly she unleashes some magical burst of light that saves them all. She gets dragged away to some palace to train because she is now a Grisha and supposed to save the world and destroy The Fold. It’s a fairly basic set up for a fairly basic young adult book… right?
Except, I was pleasantly surprised with lots of aspects in this book. Now don’t get me wrong, it was still cheesy and cliché a good percent of the time, but I was able to deal with it because the other parts were so interesting. While the whole idea of the Grisha’s being basically benders from Avatar: The Last Airbender, was obviously nothing new, it was still cool to read about and I’m a sucker for super powers. I wanted to bad to be a water bender when I was a kid. But Alina’s power was actually kind of… lame. She can basically make light come out of her. Which is convenient when there is a giant mass of pure darkness waiting to swallow up your world. But not so cool in fights… Or really anything at all that doesn’t have to do with a giant mass of pure darkness trying to swallow up your world. That being said, I really wish we could have seen more of the other powers that Grisha’s had. And that’s probably actually my main complaint about this book, the fact that we just barely touched on so many interesting things that could have added some needed meat onto this book. If it was like, another hundred pages, all devoted to explaining the world a bit more, this book would get four stars.
The most intriguing thing about this whole story was actually The Darkling. Boy, did the author really throw us a curveball with this guy. I mean, he basically just throws swirling tentacles of darkness at people during battle and slices some guy in half on top of Alina within like the first 70 pages. Such a badass. I was expecting him to be the dark mysterious guy in the inevitable love triangle, with his tormented past and heavy burdens to bear. He was at first… His storyline basically went like… Hmmm, predictable, predictable, interesting, hmmm, sigh, predictable, interesting, predict- HOLY WHAT?! WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! And it was awesome. I love him even more now. He will be the sole reason I read the next book.
While The Darkling was clearly my favorite character, Alina was okay. She was basically the typical sassy, special, ordinary but not heroine we are all used to. I don’t know, I don’t really have much to say about her. Which means she didn’t leave much of an impression. I felt like her “road of trials” basically consisted of getting picked on by the cliché pretty girls and trying to fight when she is so scrawny. Yawn. How about you go fight some monsters now? Or do… something?
The love triangle has to be addressed. I usually try to avoid spoilers in my reviews but there really isn’t much I can do here. So…
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
That curveball with The Darkling being evil… I didn’t see it coming. I don’t want to know what this says about me but wow, I like him a million times more now. Usually when the dark and mysterious love triangle boy does something questionable, it actually ends up being for some noble heroic reason and makes the heroine love him more. Yeah, not this guy. He is basically just like, “FWAH FWAH FWAH (evil laugh). I actually was using you and now I’m gonna use you some more and now I just killed a bunch of people, I’m so evil and it feels so good!” No apologies from this badass. And I am so horrible for saying this, but I am really rooting for him. I want Alina to end up with him and they can rule with world with an iron fist of fear and darkness. Mal is just so bleh. The grew up together, so what? That didn’t stop him from sleazing around with other ladies the whole time and not even noticing Alina. But the second she stops being sick and gets some curves and has another man all over her, NOW he loves her. Psssh. I don’t buy it and I don’t like him one bit.
Anyways, the world, The Darkling, the cliffhanger, it’s all making me itch for the next book. Sure, Alina was kinda lame and the book didn’t have as much depth as I would have liked, it still was a fairly solid first book in a series. Hopefully the next one still has plenty of time with The Darkling and we get to explore the world a little more.