Ravka is a country torn in two by The Unsea, a slice of land covered by shadows where the monsters known as volcra live. The land is constantly at war with neighboring nations, and their only hope is to dissipate the Shadow Fold and reclaim their coastal borders. Orphans Alina and Mal have become soldiers of the First Army, and are on a mission to cross the Fold. Their regiment is attacked, and in the face of death for her and her best friend, the restrained powers within Alina are unleashed. It turns out she is a special type of Grisha, one that could push the shadows away and save Ravka. But other nations will want to kill her and so The Darkling, the most powerful of the Grisha, takes Alina behind the safe walls of the palace. But it’s hard to live up to The Darkling’s and everyone’s expectations, and no matter all the luxury and power surrounding her, Alina knows things can be deceiving. Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone has blown me away! The care and detail that went into the world building—characters, magic, Russian names!—place her debut novel as my top YA Fantasy favorite this year! Alina is such strong character. She's witty, fun, smart, but what made her great for me is that she also shows her fear and doubt. The things that she has to go through at the palace, her training, and her very real responses to it all made her a very relatable character. I loved her growth throughout the story and how she came to an understanding of her powers, her real potential. My only complaint is that her story is a serious case of "the chosen one." I felt that things were just happening to her instead of the character making things happen. Still, that didn't keep me from turning page after page wanting to see what happened next. Another great character was The Darkling. He's is this complicated, mysterious, and sexy young man (though he’s actually really old in years) who is scarily powerful. Everyone knows he's dangerous, but when he's around Alina he shows a softer, almost boyish side of him. I'm a sucker for bad boys turned good, so of course I immediately fell for him even when I got the feeling he was bad, bad, bad. In reality my heart belonged first to Malyen. Mal is Alina's childhood friend, and from the first scene between these two I just loved him. There's such an easy banter between these two, and great humor all around that I wished there was more scenes between them. Alina has a little crush on him, but he's oblivious…until he's not. Hah! His confession was one of the most swoon inducing moments ever. Shadow and Bone is an all around an epic fantasy read you won't want to miss! The Grisha and their powers were amazing. I couldn't stop fangirling over the whole magic system, but I do wish we'd had gotten a closer look at it. The last few chapters flew by! I couldn't turn the pages fast enough; I was that into the story. The After (Epilogue) chapter left me all giddy and excited for where this series is going. I'll be waiting IMPATIENTLY for the sequel.