Starting from an orphanage with some shady character visiting every time a child is born for some sort of testing. The book immediately thrust us into a world with social classes justified by born-with power.
And both the children in the orphanage, one of whom we later realize is our protagonist Alina, are not powerful enough to gain their interest.
Or is it?
At that point, I was so swept away by it’s poetic writing style and such a cute relationship of Alina with Mal. But then, the shady, awesome character of anti-hero Darkling barged in just to make things more interesting.
At first, I thought he would just be the ancient leader staying up minding his own business in the rest of the book. But as it turned out, he started getting more and more of the page time and interest in him started developing. He is one of my all time favorite villain since he is just not all bad, but not the kind of character readers sympathize with either. He is like to proud to even get our sympathy, let alone any character’s.
Lets be honest here, I was so much rooting for Alina and Darkling being together, and Mal was just such a nonexistent figure until the middle, that I was really annoyed when he arrives at the ball-night. I didn’t found him even slightly likable until that point.
But then, all the fantasies I had created with Alina started to shatter when Baghra barged in the scene. Even while she was explaining to Alina about Darkling’s plan, I was shaking my head crying in my head “no…she is lying, there has to be some kind of mistake. Alina, don’t listen to her!”.
But as it turned out, Baghra was right and Alina had trusted her and ran for her life. Soon after, Darkling himself asserts it.
And then came the point where my feelings about Mal only, slightly started to change when he came to save Alina, using his extraordinary tracking abilities.
Not until the scene of his confession did I realized I had started to like him and he had grown on me as a character.
But I still believe his decision to force Alina in searching for the trial was wrong. If they had just made a run for it, chance were that the Darkling would never had found the collar. He did made a mistake and both of them suffered for it by getting caught.
The night in the jail was a really sadist thing the author did. It was too emotionally overwhelming, when Mal simply ask her “when is it?” and she has to tell him about when and how Darkling plan to kill him. His powerful reaction on taking the news, but how he whimpered like a scared child when Alina had said him to kill her, it was a really strong defining point of his character.
Darkling really was close to getting a chance to use the unleashed power when Alina finally realized her potential herself. I also realized Darkling was keeping her in dark about her own potential purposefully until the end. But she did found it. His mistake was pushing the boundaries of her emotions, trying to kill her love in front of her.
The best part was that in the end, I could relate easily to Mal. Mostly in female protagonist trope, at the third act the hero start acting so clumsy suddenly and the girl takes charge. It always gets an eye-roll at the very least from me, sometimes even pounding the book in my head.
With Mal, I understood. He was still powerful, he took Ivan close to down. He was brave, he let the darkness engulf him without as much as flinching. But he couldn’t fight it, or do anything much in the end. Because of the power levels that define this world. He wasn’t blessed naturally with such powers as were colliding at the battlefield.
Alina was naturally gifted one. And that was why she had to take charge. Not because somehow she understood everything and her hero had started acting like a scaredy-cat.
So thankful a writer understood that I found myself responsible to giving it a shout-out in my blog. And I am pretty sure and waiting for the moment when Mal realizes his powers. He has it but just doesn’t know it yet, at least that’s what I feel.
So now that I have gushed enough about how much amazing a character Darkling was and how the long tale of how Mal grew on me, I would like to give all the minor cast a shout-out.
Genya was so good, I practically chugged my way through the pages when she wasn’t available just to get to points where she was to enjoy her more. Our two cats, Marie and Nadia were a really fun flavor. Ivan’s smirks were just so powerfully annoying.
The book ends with a promise to adventures in sea! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. Oh I forgot, I have already started it last night.
It’s good stuff guys, I love it and would want everyone in this world to have it in their lives.