Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unraveling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?"
I first heard of this series during the tour for the third book, Ruin and Rising over at The Midnight Garden. It seemed to have glowing reviews, and the discussion about the food inspirations for the series really peaked my interest. The setting of Ravka, an alternate Russia, also drew me in. I'm happy to say Bardugo does a remarkable job in her descriptions of the world, so much so that you get the feel of its Russian influences. Yet, there are still qualities that make Ravka unique and gives the country a dark undertone, especially the Shadow Fold. I've noticed that some high fantasies seem to have similar story structures and they are apparent in Shadow and Bone, an orphan with powers yet unknown to her, an epic struggle (with The Darkling) to prevent him from controlling all of Ravka, and an epic battle to come. But even though we know that there is an epic battle going to happen, Bardugo throws in her own twists to the story. I especially noticed these twists with the second book, Siege and Storm.
From Goodreads: "Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm."
Sequels sometimes can be a hit or miss, Siege and Storm was defiantly a hit for me. I adored the additions of the privateer Sturmhond and his crew. And magical flying ships, well they sounded really cool. Alina's and Sturmhond's bantering was some of my favorite lines Bardugo wrote, they were amusing and playful and kept the story moving along beautifully. I also loved the growth in Alina's character during Siege and Storm, although I keep wanting to remind her "don't go to the dark-side." Overall, I've enjoyed both of these books and each one gets more magical and the tension keeps rising. With the addition of twists and turns that keep you guessing, and unresolved budding romances, well I'm already on the list for Ruin and Rising at the library.