Disclaimer: The copy I read was an ARC provided by the publisher.
My friend Rebecca recommend this book. She said once she started reading it, she couldn't put it down.I agree! This books was very engaging, especially if you enjoy fantasy books.
Alina and Mal are orphans during a time of border wars between two nations. They were taken in by a duke's estate.This is a time of magic, which is called Small Science, and every child is tested by the Grisha Examiners (of the Second Army) to see if they have any powers. Mal and Alina are both fascinated and scared when the Examiners show up for them. They are separated, but don't want to leave each other for the testing.
Fast forward a few years and Alina an Mal are now in their late teens, and now part of the First (or the King's) Army. Mal is the best tracker there is, good looking and adored by the all, especially the girls. Alina is small, easily tired, but a hard working mapmakers apprentice. They don't see each other often, but still look out for each other. The story is told in 1st person by Alina, so we know that she is in love with Mal.
The Shadow Fold is a sea of Darkness that separates the world. It was created 1000 years ago and is uncrossable because of the monsters, Volcra, that live in it. The regiment that Alina and Mal are in try to cross The Fold. Mal is brutally injured which makes Alina reveal a dormant power which she uses to save him.
Once she shows her power, she is thought to be the key to saving the world. She is swept off into the world of the Grisha and life in the Little Palace. Mal is left behind. The Grisha in charge, The Darkling, is powerful and seductive. Alina learns that life as Grisha is not all that it seems.
Is Alina the Key to saving Ravka or is she something else?
I recommend this book for Middle School and up.