Enter author Leigh Bardugo's Grishas, the "magically elite" with special talents. I accidentally stumbled upon Bardugo's young adult Grisha trilogy, consisting of "Shadow and Bone," "Siege and Storm" and "Ruin and Rising," while browsing an unfamiliar bookstore. I loved the stylish "Russian-like" art on the front cover, which got me to read the back cover and make the purchase (kudos to the publisher's art and marketing departments).
The story, set in fictional Ravka, a previously great nation now divided by the Shadow Fold (black void with dark, scary man-eating monsters), introduces underwhelming orphan Alina Starkov, who is plucked from mediocrity when she is discovered to have special late-blooming abilities that could repair the damage to her world and again bring peace.
Throw in a love triangle with childhood friend/super tracker Mal and the mysterious Darkling, who rules the Grishas, and this expertly crafted story sucked me in from the first page. I haven't had a ton of time to read recently, but I devoured all three books in this trilogy in about 5 days (and they are lengthy). I have to say this is one of the best trilogies I've read in recent years. I simply could not put them down. Any Sarah J. Maas fan would love Bardugo, who is an incredibly talented world builder. I can only imagine the backstory she must have written about Ravka, its surrounding areas, and the histories of the Grishas before she even began writing Alina's story.
"Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Follow Alina Starkov as she discovers her dormant powers and is swept up in a world of luxury and illusion." per www.leighbardugo.com
'Cause, seriously, Grishas are awesome.