Shadow and Bone
Copyright 2012, Henry Holt
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. -- Goodreads
Holy. Crap. I have never read a book like this one. It's Russian...kind of...it's also fantasy...and there's romance...but not really...There is so much going on with the heart, magic, war, friendships, personal growth and trials - Leigh Bardugo leaves nothing out of this fast paced ride that leaves you wanting to find your own Darkling and hide your best friend from the world.
There are even members of court like Genya who can make you beautiful! And trust me, that's got to be tempting for Alina. She's awkward and bony and not very cute. Which is part of her strength, I think. And she uses it to change herself from a scared orphan to a powerful woman. It's refreshing, actually, that she's not a perfect Barbie and yet she's amazing in all ways. I really enjoyed reading about her and the relationships she has with those around her. Even the Darkling..ok, ESPECIALLY the Darkling.
But maybe you won't want to find your own Darkling, maybe Mal will be enough for you. I want them both. In Russia. Or fantasy-Russia. I don't really care which :) There is just SO MUCH and if I start telling you and then I tell you all of it you'll hate me and I don't want you to hate me. So I'll stop. And I'll tell you to read it. Especially if you're a fan of books like Joy Preble's Dreaming Anastasia series. And if you're a fan of this book, you should try Joy's!
And if Leigh ever comes to a signing by you - GO TO IT. She's fun. And super nice!