My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release Date: June 5th 2012 – US.
Oh my goodness. Oh my… Yeah. I’m currently lost for words. Doesn’t happen often, but it has today.
There was so much to love about this book. At first, I was a little confused. What was the Shadow Fold? what did Alina and her fellow orphan friend, Mal, do? I soon learned the Shadow Fold was created by a Darkling thousands of years ago and cuts the country off from the rest of the world. In those shadows lay murderous creatures, afraid of the light. The novel starts with Alina and Mal, along with fellow army soldiers and armed with Geisha’s (people with amazing powers) setting sail across the sands of the Fold to try and conquer it, though I’m not sure why. I perhaps missed that, caught in Bardugo’s wonderful, flowing writing and vibrant characters.
Either way, it’s the scene that sets the tone for the rest of the book. Alina, thinking she is a normal peasant girl, learns she has the power to summon the Sun. A pivotal power to try to take down the Fold. But she can’t control the power, can’t summon it without the help of amplifiers, one of which is the terrifying, but startling handsome Darkling – the most powerful Geisha, and the second most powerful man in the country, only below the King. As Alina learns to hone her power, learns the history behind Geisha’s and what goes on behind palace walls, a betrayal is forming in the form of a new war, and Alina will be the best weapon anyone has seen.
See how amazing that sounds? I can’t begin to explain how little I wanted to put this book down. Alina was a great character. Flawed, but not too flawed, brave, vulnerable, and a typical girl! I wanted her to succeed and I rooted for her the whole way through. She was such a well written character that whatever emotion she felt, I felt it too.
The show of powers in the Geisha’s were creative and broad. Some healed, some could move things with their minds, others could amplify powers on top of what other things they could do. The pacing was perfect. We’d have great scenes of battle or some kind of struggle and then we’d have slower scenes of characters getting to know one another that levelled it out perfectly.
I did have a little problem learning the new words and remembering what they were, but it got to the point where I didn’t care. Not knowing one word didn’t take away the greatness of the story. I haven’t enjoyed reading something this much in a while. Recently, I’ve been desperate for the end of books to come, wondering when it would finish and wishing the climax would appear. This time, I was desperate for it NOT to end.
I’d recommend this to fantasy lovers everywhere and people who enjoy reading well written stories with characters that come alive before your very eyes. 5 stars. A million stars!