Alina Starkov is just a mapmaker and not a very good one. When she must enter into the Shadow Fold and sees her best friend in mortal danger, she shields him with her body and something else. She has no idea what happened, but she feels responsible for not being able to save more people. When the Darkling whisks her away to his castle where the elite are trained, she cannot understand what is happening. She tries to reach her best friend, but he will not answer her letters. Alina is not sure what to think because she has suddenly turned into her country's best hope to defeat the dangerous creatures in the Shadow Fold. But, there is more that she has to figure out. The Darkling has taken a romantic interest in her, and she is flattered. When her best friend shows up at the castle, she is not sure what to do. Ravka, her beloved country, is at stake, but there is much more. Nothing is what it seems, and Alina must put her feelings aside to figure it out--or does she?
This book began slowly for me; however, once I got about 30 pages into it--the action took over. There are many nuances that took some time to cover, but this is part of a trilogy. So, alas...I must get Siege and Storm now. <sigh> Great adventurous read.