With fur hats, swooshing capes, and epic snowscapes, Leigh Bardugo sweeps you away into a Russian-inspired fantasy world in this adventurous and romantic teen novel. The action builds quickly as orphan Alina and her childhood best friend Mal are torn apart for the first time in their lives when they must cross the Fold - a swath of land covered in darkness and prowled by vicious monsters. Inexplicably, Alina saves Mal from certain death by wielding a weapon she never knew she had, the power to control light. From that point on, Alina is caught up into the world of the Grisha - the elite, magically inclined protectors of the realm--and placed under the thumb of the broodingly powerful Darkling. Alina struggles to come to terms with her newfound power and her separation from Mal but also finds herself drawn to the mysterious Darkling. This book has so much going for it and would be a great recommendation for a wide range of teens, 12 and up. Can't wait to read the sequel!— Julie at Books Inc. Laurel Village
“This debut fantasy riffs on Russian history and folklore. The orphan, Alina, doesn't know that she controls powers beyond her mapmaker trade and is thrust into royalty and the Darkling's inner circle, the magical, elite Grishas. With vivid characters, exciting and twisty plots, monsters, romance, and a fully developed otherworld, this is a high fantasy thriller of the first order. I look forward to more from this talented author!”
— Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA
Alina Starkov doesn t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, the one thing she could rely on was her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they re sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.
When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. Ripped from everything she knows, she is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the one person with the power to destroy the Fold.
Swept up in a world of luxury and illusion, envied as the Darkling's favorite, Alina struggles to fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But as the threat to the kingdom mounts, Alina uncovers a secret that sets her on a collision course with the most powerful forces in the kingdom. Now only her past can save her and only she can save the future.