by Leigh Bardugo
First sentence: “The monster’s name was Izmrud, the great worm, and there were those who claimed had had made the tunnels that ran beneath Ravka.”
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Others in the series: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm
Content: There’s some violence and lots of kissing and some off-screen sex (implied). It’s in the YA (grades 6-8) section off the bookstore.
Alina is in a bit of a predicament. She has two of the amplifiers and that enabled her to temporarily set back the Darkling. However, it cost her most of her power, turned her hair white, and has forced her underground and into the protection of the Apparate, whom she despises.
Her goal: fend of the zealots who consider her a saint, get out of the White Cathedral, hope that Nikolai is still alive (and in some sort of condition to be king), find the firebird and the third amplifier, and defeat the Darkling, once and for all.
And manage to come out of all of it alive.
My only complaint is that I didn’t reread the other two books beforehand; I really do think that this series is best read one right after another. Even so, it didn’t take me long to remind myself of the big, broad points. There’s a lot of action, and Alina is a major player in all of the decisions, including the final, heart-rendering one. There were a lot of small moments I loved, but I adored the big ones: the battles with the Darkling, the confrontation with the former king. Nikolai was fantastic, and even Mal (and the True Love between Mal and Alina) grew on me over the pages.
A fantastic way to end a series.