I FINALLY got around to reading this after seeing so many people talk about it and move on to the second book. I’m slow when it comes to that, as most of you have probably figured out, but I’m really happy I finally decided to grab this one. I can finally say I know what Grisha are and who The Darkling is!The world in which Alina lives is tense and full of danger. Ravka is split in two by the horrible Shadow Fold, which is a shroud of darkness that many people do not ever leave. It’s filled with these horrific creatures called Volcra and I actually managed to have a nightmare about them. We got a taste of how and what the Shadow Fold is and I’m so ready to see what role it plays in the Siege & Storm. Ravka is also surrounded by those who would invade or declare war. The barrier between these threats lie with the Grisha, people with amazin magical ability. They are varied and powerful, and they have their own social standings and army. I really loved the fresh take on a fantasy magic system and I loved the different ‘jobs’ that everyone holds within the Grisha. We also have The Darkling, who is the dangerous yet charismatic leader of the Grisha. I have already added him to my harem of book boyfriends. He has his issues and he’s clearly not someone to trifle with, but I’m pretty sure I’m love with him.Alina is a smart and witty with a bit of a stubborn streak. I loved watching her grow from someone who feels invisible and inferior to someone who becomes comfortable in her own skin and more confident in her abilities. The one problem I had with her was her self-depreciation around the other Grisha, who are beauty obsessed. It fades a bit by the end of the book but I really wanted her to buck up and stop caring. Mal is Alina’s really loyal and really sweet best friend. He goes through a lot for her and he doesn’t really expect much in return, and while he took a while to warm up to I really liked him in the end. I would love to see some more depth from him in the next book though. There are quite a few characters that fall into a weird grey area of mortality, which I find to be fantastic! No one wants characters who are constantly good or bad, give me an in between and make me guess!I’m so glad I listened to everyone who recommended this one to me because it turned out be right up my alley!