MY THOUGHTSABSOLUTELY LOVED ITAlina and her best friend, Mal, grow up in an orphanage under the patron of a local duke during a time of encroaching darkness from a place known as the Fold. A shadowy area where Ravka has been sliced in two and is populated by creatures who feast on humans trying to cross. The both join the military since there are few outlets to earn a living. They both failed the test to become Grisha and join the magical elite that would have opened up an easier life. While on a crossing through the Fold, the pair is attacked and Alina brings forth a power that saves Mal's life and throws her right in the middle of a major power struggle. First off, I was so drawn into this world of magic and evil with such amazingly strong characters so quickly that I found myself going back and rereading passages just to make sure I didn't miss anything. Everything seemed to move so effortlessly that I found it hard to put the book down once I started it. The dynamic between Alina and Mal was one that was cleverly scripted and would really translate to the screen well. She has longed for him since they were children and when they are separated, it pains her to no end when she realizes those feelings aren't returned. So she does what any teen would do, go for the older guy with power that has seduced her. The Darkling has taken her under his wing and wants her to develop her powers (sorry, I know I am being vague about those so you read the book!), and has that cover of goodness that makes her unable to see the evil lurking inside until it is almost too late. The descriptions are equally matched with the believable dialogue and all seem to have a somewhat Russian flavor. I am not a huge fan of descriptive prose, but Bardugo nails everything with a concise and elegant tone that made me want to linger over each scene that she depicts. You can feel what Alina is conflicted about and how everything affects her. Oh! I want more of this series. I know there are two more books to come and they won't be here soon enough. The pacing is just amazing as well since it doesn't drag at any part. If you are a fan of Philip Pullman's Golden Compass series, you are going to love this one as well.