Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: June 4th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
Whenever I jump into the sequel of a book I loved, I’m always a little nervous. And it’s not just that I’m worried it won’t live up to the previous book (though there is that). It has more to do with the newness that will be introduced in a sequel. Everything worked perfectly for me in Shadow and Bone, and a new installment adds room for More, which could throw off that perfect balance that created awesomeness in Book 1. I wish sequels could just continue with the same feeling as the original book, without the risk of adding new stuff that could upset the perfection. I don’t know if I’m making any kind of sense at all? But that’s how I feel about sequels.
Well, my sequel-induced fears about Siege and Storm were totally, completely unfounded.
Rather than throwing a wrench in the perfection of Shadow and Bone, everything new about this installment (and I mean everything), worked together seamlessly to create another utterly compelling and engaging story that I can’t fault in the slightest. To me, this series is close to perfect.
First, since Mal and Alina fled Ravka in Shadow and Bone, we’re dropped right away into a new part of Bardugo’s world, but I was so impressed by how it meshed so seamlessly with prior locations despite its differences. Even though Mal and Alina aren’t there for very long, it still felt fully formed, if that makes sense, and I loved that.
There are also a bunch of new characters introduced, and they are all awesome. Sturmhond is hands-down my favorite newcomer (even though it took me a while to get over that name… it sounds so funny to me, lol). I was a little wary of his character before I started the book, because I’d heard that he was cocky and arrogant but people loved his attitude and his great one-liners. I feel like this kind of character pops up a lot, and I’ve had varying reactions to them, so I was afraid maybe his attitude would get annoying, or that there wouldn’t be much to his character other than the surface likability. Again, I was totally wrong to doubt. I don’t think Leigh Bardugo is capable of creating characters that aren’t well-developed. Everyone has so much more to them than what might be seen on the surface. Yes, Sturmhond is arrogant and cocky, but he’s so much more than that – and he’s a fantastic addition to The Grisha series. Also I wanted to note (not really a spoiler, but might be considered a tiny one, so here’s your warning):
View Spoiler »At one point, Sturmhond sort of becomes a possible love interest for Alina, and I got a little nervous. But again, I had nothing to fear. This was handled extremely well, and I think it worked very realistically within the plot. I’m still a huge Sturmhond fan, so that should say something about whether this sub-plot was an issue. It wasn’t. « Hide Spoiler.
Two other new characters I loved were the twins, Tamar and Tolya. Despite the fact that I kept getting their genders mixed up at first (Tamar is a girl, Tolya is a guy… I kept thinking Tolya was a girl because the name ends in ‘a’…), they quickly sorted themselves out once I was fully invested in their awesomeness. They are fantastic and I can’t wait to see more of them in book 3.
And I haven’t even begun to gush about everyone else.
Alina is so freaking amazing. She is hands down one of my favorite YA heroines thanks to this book. She’s not perfect (far from it, in this installment), but she also acknowledges her flaws for what they are, which I seriously appreciated. Her character development was huge. She grows a lot, and I loved every minute of it.
The Darkling continues to be a fascinating and deliciously dark character. He is unquestionably evil, there’s no denying that now. And I like how, while I guess technically maybe he could be thought of as a love interest for Alina, he’s really more of a dark, not-quite-opposite of her. He’s got the power of darkness or whatever, and she’s got the power of the Sun. But I think Alina is facing the same sort of temptations that come along with power, that the Darkling fell prey to in his own past, and it is so intriguing to watch. That phrase, “like calls to like”, is used in reference to Alina and the Darkling a lot, and she begins to see more and more of his characteristics in herself, which adds to her struggles in this book. Things seem pretty bleak for Alina at times, but she continues to fight for her beliefs, and for her country, with a fierceness that I adore. She makes some pretty intense decisions and there are quite a few emotional scenes in this one.
Mal… Mal just continues to be amazing. He spends a lot of this installment in a similarly bleak place, like Alina, but I felt so much for him and what he was going through. And the great thing was, though there was drama between him and Alina, it never felt like relationship drama that was just thrown in there for the sake of conflict. Everything that happens to him and Alina, the good and the bad, works within this story, and I love that.
Alina and Mal have officially become one of my favorite couples ever – and it’s not just because they can be adorable together. The beginning of Siege and Storm has a lot of fantastic moments between them. Later, they go through a lot of hardships, are separated a lot, and are not on the best of terms for quite some time. But throughout their time apart, you could tell how much they loved and needed one another, and it hurt to see them hurting. Which is one way I absolutely knew that they’d become a favorite. They’re both strong and driven characters on their own, but they make each other stronger… and I think there might be more to that than meets the eye…
I am in love with these books. There really isn’t any other way to say it. I finished Siege and Storm feeling like, Well, what do I do now? And I’m still feeling that way. This installment was filled with lots of action and some of the final scenes are incredibly edge-of-your-seat. The ending wrapped up beautifully, just like Shadow and Bone, but it still left me needing more. So 2014 better hurry up – I cannot wait to return to Ravka in Ruin and Rising.