This is a YA Fantasy novel-- I'd say dark fantasy, too-- about an ugly duckling misunderstood young woman gets powers in a traumatic way story that is very different from the usual fantasy for its AU Imperial Russia setting, that and the way the author approaches the magical powers our heroine learns to contend with. Bardugo doesn't spend a lot of time detailing the magical system, and there's always the feeling of something dark lurking, so that when things do start to turn in the story, it's not that you're not surprised, it's just that the foreboding has really loomed higher & higher over the course of the story so that when the monsters do show their true faces, it's even more dreadful & scary than most teen fantasy bothers to be.
There's a love triangle, which I could wish there wasn't, but it's a genre convention & it's handled much better than in most stories. The emotions here feel very raw & very real, even in the fantastical alternate setting of the story. This was one of the first books I'd read in a while I literally could not put down, and stayed up until 3 am just to finish.
First in a series.
Read in B & N e-book format on Nook HD+.