Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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?
My Thoughts: I took my time getting to this book because of all the hype when it came out. I didn't want to be disappointed. So I finally picked it up and guess what? I was not disappointed in any way at all! I finished this book within a day and a half. For some, that might not seem like a big deal but I have three kids that I homeschool and my oldest is in 5th grade. Have any of you done 5th grade math lately? It's ridiculous...so, for me to finish it that quickly means that I put off the housework and maybe even some of the schooling (my kids were thrilled) and I stayed up late to read it because I simply couldn't put it down!
Ravka has been torn in two by the shadow fold, a dark void filled with horrible monsters called Volcra. The shadow fold was made by a Darkling gone bad. Alina and Mal are in the army that is getting ready to cross the shadow fold. Alina and Mal have been friends since they were in the same orphanage together in their youth. Once the army is in the shadow fold, they are attacked by the vicious Volcra and Alina uses a power she never knew she had to save Mal from them.
Now known to be a Grisha, Alina is sent to the Darkling. Alina is whisked away from everything she has ever known...Mal, the army, her work as a map maker, and sent to the Palace to practice her powers. While she meets new friends and enemies, she constantly thinks of Mal and misses him. However, despite the letters she sends him, Mal doesn't seem to care. Alina decides to put Mal out of her mind and once she does that, her power blooms. Everything is going great until Mal shows up at the Palace and from there, Alina's world is turned upside down again.
I liked Alina even though she wasn't that strong at first. She continues to grow and strengthen throughout the story and that is what I really enjoyed. I loved that she didn't whine a lot or feel sorry for herself too much. She overcame emotions and problems and she showed the Darkling what she was made of!
I liked that there wasn't a big love triangle between Mal and the Darkling. I knew there was something up with the Darkling from the beginning but even I started to fall for him. He said all the right things to Alina and really made you believe what he said.
The ending completely surprised me too and I love an ending that I don't predict. Honestly, I was so involved in the story that I didn't even really have time to predict an ending, which is even better, in my opinion!
This book was certainly not at all what I was expecting! It grabbed my attention from the first page and I couldn't stop reading it. I loved every bit of it!