SYNOPSIS: Alina Starkov thought she was just an ordinary cartographer, but when a latent power opens up as she’s saving the life of her best friend, Mal, her fate and the fate of her country change dramatically.
It was refreshing to dive into a fantasy world with Eastern European roots rather than Western European roots. I enjoyed the new sorts of magical creatures, the Russian names, and Imperial influence. I just wish that Alina could have gotten along better with the other Grisha (basically Russian Wizards) because I wanted to learn more about them besides the peasant tales that Mal and Alina told before she discovered her power. There is still so much mystery surrounding the Grisha and their power that I’m glad that there are two more books that will allow me to explore the world some more! I’m curious to see what allies Mal and Alina will pick up along the way and what game of chess they are about the play with the Darkling (I also hope we find out the Darkling’s true name). The Darkling is a very interesting adversary because Alina (and the other Grisha) want to do everything in their power to be liked by him and make him proud. I found it intriguing the ways that he would manipulate Alina and other characters as if he could assess each person and figure out what he needed to do in order to make them loyal to him (in Alina’s case it was a sense of belonging). It’ll be interesting to see if the events in the final chapters change how some of the Grisha feel about him (namely Genya and David because I want them to join team Alina and Mal). I also liked that his title is actually the Darkling and yet you don’t totally believe that he could possibly do bad things until the end (I mean there is something off and slimy about him but you don’t really want to believe it because how obvious). I’m really excited to see where this story goes and hope that Bardugo continues to build a fascinating world and keeps the theme of no love triangles (I don’t really count Alina’s fascination with the Darkling because he was doing it to manipulate her)!