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 fulfil 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 — from Goodreads
My Rating: ★★★.5
My Thoughts: (may contain minor spoilers!)
Where to start with reviewing this book?
I’d read comparisons with Game of Thrones and the Hunger Games, so my expectations were probably a bit too high, as GoT is fast becoming my all-time favourite series of books.
That’s not to say this books isn’t an enjoyable read, because it is. In fact, I picked it up whilst I was really struggling to get into another book (more on that in a future review) and it really pulled me out of my reading slump, for I found it engaging right from the beginning, and soon became immersed in the story, which moved at a good pace.
The setting of the book felt a little ambiguous. My initial impression was that there was a Russian feel to the kingdom of Ravka, and I would have loved to see this developed further as the story progressed. Alina, Mal, the Darkling et al could have been absolutely anywhere, at any time, so I would say it was more focused on the characters than the world building. Not sure how I felt about this as the world building and the thorough details of histories and back stories is a major part of the appeal of a series such as A Song Of Ice And Fire for me. I think I would probably have revelled in a little more of the detail of this potentially enticing kingdom.
I enjoyed Alina discovering her powers, and her progression from unknown orphan girl to her elevated position of power at Os Alta alongside the Darkling (oh for a name for him, rather than a title). I particularly liked their display of power at the feast, the showy contrast of light against dark, and Alina’s encounter with Mal after the display. I didn’t see the twist coming, although I had a slight feeling that something wasn’t right, so I really enjoyed that part of the story, and the resulting pursuit once Alina releases the Darkling’s true intentions. The final stages of the book really had me engrossed. I loved the conflict, and the impossible situation that Alina found herself in, and the way in which she dealt with it. It really sets the scene for the next book in the trilogy. I’m really glad that the book is already available, because it means I don’t have to wait too long to continue on this adventure and find out what happens next.