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. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. 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.
So, I reread this because I apparently I have this new ability to forget literally everything in a book I read a year ago. I don’t know how I managed to do it, but I did it brilliantly. It went slightly better, I believe, than the first time around because I didn’t fell the crushing disappointment of this book not being Six of Crows, which was a real struggle the first time around. I seriously wrote a whole pity party opening paragraph to my first review. It was great. I’ll going to be creating a mix of my first review of the book and my thoughts now that I have reread:
This story takes us into the the Grishaverse yet again but from a new angle. We’re in Ravka, a place that reminds you what a fantasyland Russia would be like complete with magical people – Grisha – who rule over the common people in their fancy robes and kickbutt powers. There is an enigmatic place called the Shadow Fold that is a dark part of Ravka where creepy vulture-like things (I kept imagining these weird one eye massive turkey like things so not very scary for me) kill you as you try to cross this near-black land. Our heroine, Alina, is forced to cross it for her job, and as the vulcra are killing her friends and trying to kill her, a great light comes and saves them all. Did she do that? Is she a Grisha? One of the most powerful Grisha to live and save them all from the Shadow Fold?
REREAD THOUGHTS: wow, I used to have a lot of details in my reviews. Welp, that went out the book blog window so fast. Can’t argue with this description.
Perhaps, it would have been far more helpful if I actually read the summary or anything about it before I started to read it. I went into this book, not knowing anything, in order to satisfy my Leigh Bardugo feels. It still had her beautiful writing style and wonderfully crafted world – how on earth does she create this stuff?? – but it was lacking quite a bit in other regards.
REREAD THOUGHTS: well, I feel like I went into the reread with the same lack of clue because I only knew there was a girl named Alina, some guy named Mal, Daddy Darkling (thank you random person that created this nickname for him that I can’t remember), and some weird antler necklace thing.
The main reason, possibly, that I had so many issues with it was the main character. Unlike her other books, I didn’t feel much for Alina. I liked her well enough, but I never truly cared what happened to her or what she was feeling. I didn’t care if she was having struggles with her powers or if she was sad because her instructors made her work much. Towards the last 40% of the book, I did care about her a bit more, but I still didn’t have that dedication I should have had for a main character. She felt a bit too cookie cutter for me, and that was a problem. I did really like Genya, though, so hopefully she makes more appearances as the storyline goes on.
REREAD THOUGHTS: eh, still pretty accurate. Alina was there. She was a cliche fantasy girl that was also a cliche contemporary girl that thought she was so unworthy of the great Mal who was Mr. Captain of the Football team in fantasyland. BUT GUYS. I actually liked Mal a tiny bit better this time around! I felt absolutely nothing for him in the first book, and I found him a tad bit more enjoyable this time around. PROGRESS. Genya was still pretty cool beans. And glad I never missed Nikolai because I was fully convinced I had somehow missed him in this book??
I also felt the plot became a bit disjointed. I wasn’t sure for a while what the storyline was. Was it about the Shadow Fold? Was it about her presence as a Sun Summoner? Was it the romance? Near the end, the stag? I didn’t have a solid line, and it made me hesitant to continue with it. I wasn’t as enthralled with it as I was by her previous book.
REREAD THOUGHTS: oh. That was an astute observation. I AM IMPRESSED. I guess I was flying through the book so fast that I didn’t really care about the depth of the plot. It really does fly around and stall in parts, but I kind of was just okay with rolling with the magical punches because Bardugo did make it so easy to read.
I guess all my main reasons I found this book is lacking is because I couldn’t stop myself from comparing it to Six. That book is one of my favorites of all times, and since it is set in the same universe, I expected the same things from the book. It’s a whole different storyline, group of people – not as morally questionable although the Darkling sure is up there – and even a different setting. I think it would have been better if I had read this before I read that series, since I couldn’t have compared it.
REREAD THOUGHTS: DON’T COMPARE IT TO SIX OF CROWS. Once you get away from that, you’ll enjoy it so much better like I did it the second time around. I found it still pretty okay, but I didn’t struggle as much with it this time around and I actually am eager to get to the second book.
This really isn’t a bad book. Leigh Bardugo just don’t have that ability to do it, it seems. I think a lot of people will like this. It has romance, it has action, it has an amazingly lush setting, it has some good funny bits, and it has a well-executed and beautifully unique concept. It has a lot of merits. It just didn’t fit with what I wanted out of this book, and I couldn’t get into it for that reason. I will always say to go read Six of Crows, and while I do recommend this, I might read it before so Six of Crows doesn’t give you impossible standards to live up like it did for me.
REREAD THOUGHTS: Nothing really changed but I did enjoy it a lot more the second time around. Three crowns and a Belle rating!