Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo

I loved this book! It was a pretty easy read, but I liked the world it was set in and the new ideas it dealt with.

Alina Starkov and her best friend Mal are orphans. living in the nation of Ravka, which has been split in two by the Shadow Fold, or the Unsea. As they attempt to cross the fold, Alina and Mal are attacked, which forces Alina to unleash a power that she had made dormant years ago. Her new powers courts the interest of the Darkling, an apparent descendent of the person who created the Shadow Fold in the first place.

While I am still getting used to the different ranks in court and the very odd words used to describe these rants, I like the way the world is set up. I would have liked some more background about Ravka's bordering countries and the war that is occurring. That being said, we were not overly burdened with the fantasy world, meaning that the information is well integrated into the narrative and does not disrupt the story or discourage the reader.

Alina is a pretty cool main character. She is a little self-deprecating at first, since she is skinny and almost haunted looking (view spoiler). The dichotomy between her relationship with Mal and her relationship with the Darkling is also interesting.

On that note, Mal is absolutely great. While he is kind of a jerk at the beginning, his realization that he misses Alina makes him into a compassionate guy. It's definitely a refreshing departure from the bad boy character, and we are spared the various descriptions of his abs/rock hard body/angelic looks. It's more in the way he acts that he's sexy and likeable.

All in all, a very enjoyable story! I wish the second book was already out. Can't wait to see what's in store!