Book One: Shadow and Bone
Personal Summary: Shadow and Bone follows the adventures of Alina Starkov, a self-doubting orphan living in Ravka (based on Tsarist Russia). The protagonist's life completely changes when she discovers that she has the ability to control light. Alina suddenly finds herself a member of the Grisha, Ravka's second army comprised of individuals who also possess supernatural powers. Our hero's mission, along with the other Grisha, is to free Ravka from the Shadow Fold, which has created a terrifying area of darkness filled with dangerous creatures and makes traveling from one side of the nation to the other nearly impossible. This novel discusses the importance of discerning good from evil and why we must always make the brave decision rather than the easy one.
I would recommend this trilogy to any reader looking to fill the void left by completing Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or similar fantasy series. Unlike the Harry Potter Series, though, the Grisha Trilogy is best suited for a 14+ audience. In some ways, the first story in the series, Shadow and Bone, fulfills many of the generic conventions that avid young adult novel readers have come to expect–a coming-of-age narrative in which the protagonist learns that she's not so ordinary after all. In fact, Shadow and Bone features a love triangle of sorts, a corrupt government, and even a cliffhanger that can only be answered by picking up the next novel in the series–sound familiar? Nevertheless, Leigh Bardugo is a true wordsmith and knows how to craft a beautiful sentence, paragraph, page, and so on. In addition, the author's way of capturing the history and culture of Russia during this time period is simultaneously well-informed and effortless. Ultimately, this series is the epitome of a pleasure read and I'd recommend it to a wide array of readers.