Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy; Action; Magic; Romance;
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. ... With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Review: Wow. This book is full of amazing things. It's got the action and fantasy elements I was looking for but it was also grounded and real. Alina felt like a fully developed character -- one who makes mistakes, makes bad decisions. She didn't immediately have all the right answers and she didn't get saved over and over again by things or people planted by the author. It wasn't a romance book masquerading as a fantasy novel. The romance throughout feels fitting. Can't wait to read book two.
Reading Level: This book was a fun read, and one I'd be happy to pass on to my students. If you're interested in fantasy, you'll like this one.