My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this. I knew it had Russian elements, but not much else. The funny thing is that I didn’t expect the style of writing to sound somewhat modern in how they spoke. I’m not sure if that was to make it easier for the readers to understand Alina Starkov or what, but it only took me a few pages to get used to.
As far as the story goes, I slowly became enveloped in this new and unique world of people with powers and unfamiliar words (I still don’t know the meanings of some of the foreign terms because I was too involved in the book to stop and find out what they meant – hopefully I’ll try and look them up soon enough, but I realize it’s a lot harder to “flip” through the pages of a ebook since I didn’t book mark them).
Alina is the protagonist and she’s an interesting character, because you see how shy she is how low her self-esteem is. Although you see the changes in her throughout the book and see her confidence grow, she still is vulnerable, which I think is something I can understand. It’s not easy to just change completely within a short amount of time, and what I mean by short is the several months this book goes through. I like this character, even if I was frustrated with her at times, wanting her to hurry up and be brave. But realistically, courage can sometimes take time to build.
The Darkling is a very interesting character indeed. You think you know the guy, and for the longest time I had a hard time picturing him looking like a normal handsome man. The title made him sound more than human, like some kind of magical creature in human form, but not really human. Yet, there are things you read and you have to assume that he’s human. It’s interesting how my thoughts about him changed from one thing to another and I wished that some things about him weren’t so, but it does make for really great storytelling and really original characters.
Mal, Alina’s best friend, is somewhat of an enigma for probably the first half of the book, but when he comes in, you realize how much he brings to the story, and you just want to hug him and protect him, and him to protect and take care of you and never, ever leave.
There are some really cool elements in here. There’s the Grisha (those with powers) with their awesomely sounding garments. Although they are different from regular people because of their powers, their characteristics most of the time run on very human emotions, so you’ll find you like some Grisha better than others.
The other supporting characters don’t bore me, either. They all interact with Alina in different ways that doesn’t read as repetitive and you get to see Alina learn from each of them in more ways than one at some point.
In the end, your mind will try and wonder who exactly to trust or who to like. You may even want to like someone even though that person may be bad, or vice versa.
The pace of the book isn’t exactly fast, as there’s only bits of action here and there, but it doesn’t dwell too much in descriptive details, only in the importants things. So, it didn’t feel too long for me at all. I was drawn into this place without knowing hardly anything about Russian folklore or terms. I guess that’s what made it feel original to me.
I’ll definitely continue with book 2 when it comes out later this year. And hopefully I’ll be wearing a kefta when I do! Just kidding…kind of.