Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The nation of Ravka is held captive by a growing patch of nearly impenetrable darkness filled with flesh-eating creatures. The nation’s only hope rests with Alina, an orphan who accidentally discovers she has the ability to manipulate light. This earns her the attention of the mysterious Darkling, leader of the magical Grisha. While the well-paced world-building and likeable Alina will keep you interested from the start, what sets this novel apart from other high fantasy reads is the lush description and unique setting. Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone is set against a Russian-inspired backdrop and not the typical Western European setting that many high fantasy novels explore. The richness of the narrative paints clear, lavish, and vivid images, immediately drawing you into Ravka and its magical characters. The novel moves quickly and the ending left me anxiously waiting for the next book in this debut author’s trilogy.