I haven't read a ton of fantasy since high school when I decided to tackle Lord of the Rings. Well that's not completely true, I have read the first two books in A Song of Ice and Fire. But seriously, these are the only books I've read until Shadow and Bone. I absolutely LOVED this book. It was everything I hoped for and more. I was up late because I couldn't put it down. Bardugo does an amazing job creating this world and the characters. Throughout the book I felt Alina's loneliness and need to be a part of a group. She never fit in with her troop, and still doesn't really belong with Grisha. She goes through so many emotions, including heart ache, in order to find who she is. The only person she has ever felt understood by is Mal, her childhood best friend. He is the one constant in her life, or was, until she was swept off to join the Grisha. The Darkling is someone many people fear. He is the only Grisha with black robes, and is extremely mysterious. He has secrets that he means to keep hidden. I was so back and forth on him and his intentions during most of the book. But after certain events, and I'm not a fan. Or maybe that will change later. :PI kept getting choked up on the some of the words. They can be a little hard to pronounce. But I did the best I could and moved on. It's mostly just titles that are difficult. The world she built is still so vivid in my mind, even a week after putting the book down. I'm sure I'll be doing a re-read soon. I highly recommend this for fans of fantasy. It is an epic story that will leave you wanting more!