RATING: 4 1/2 STARS
Warning, warning! Danger, danger! SPOILERS for SHADOW AND BONE ahead! Avast, there be spoilers! If ye have not read Shadow and Bone and wish to do so, TURN BACK, me hearties!
Darkness never dies.
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.
[This Book in One Sentence: Alina Starkov returns in Shadow and Bone’s thrilling, heart-wrenching sequel; war is brewing, and no one is safe.]
Siege and Storm is the sequel to Shadow and Bone and the second installment in the Grisha Trilogy. Of course, I requested this book from the library as soon as I finished the first one. Upon completing Siege and Storm, I immediately bought it on Amazon after a near-lethal injection of fangirl into my veins. Thanks, Darkling. Thanks for being such a magnificently crafted character. You’re gonna kill me one day. 👿
“I’ve seen what you truly are,” said the Darkling, “and I’ve never turned away. I never will. Can he say the same?”
Siege and Storm picks up where the previous installment left off. Alina and Mal are attempting to build a new life together–away from Ravka and the Darkling’s influence. As Shadow and Bone sadly revealed, the Darkling has much bigger plans for Alina than anyone could have guessed. With Mal’s help, she manages to escape, but not before being traumatized by events that were gory, sorrowful, and could have been stopped.
Alina and Mal are hiding out in a dirty foreign hostel; and yet, fate cannot be so easily ignored. The Darkling is growing more powerful by the day. Ravka is in more danger than ever before. Alina is aching to use her powers. Will she return? Is the Darkling after her? How can she be useful to Mal without her abilities? These are the questions that plague her nightmares..
I absolutely adore this book. It might be a trilogy favorite–perhaps. There are swashbucklers, adventures, kickass character developments, sob-worthy scenes, politics with a side serving of violence, horrific happenings… woah. I’m getting dizzy, and I wasn’t even halfway done.
Complex, interwoven themes are present in Siege and Storm: the hero’s journey; the pain of sacrifice; the cost of hubris; the balance of death and life; an unending struggle for human power.
Alina’s newly found confidence shines as brightly as her abilities, but she is haunted by what happened on the Fold. Her stag collar caused her power to increase exponentially. Alina has mastered the cut, slicing men, skiffs, and ships in half with a simple hand gesture. This power scares her; nonetheless, she craves more.
I really admire Alina’s character development; it reflects the harsh reality of trauma combined with magically induced ambition. This new amplifier has changed her–and what’s more, it’s given her an unbreakable connection to the Darkling. She’s not the same girl that she was in Shadow and Bone; she’s better. I positively love Alina in every way… but I think that Mal holds her back more than anything or anyone else. Sometimes I wanted to stab him with a giant fork.
Mal is an expert tracker and a handsome human being, but his positive qualities stop there. He’s certainly not right for Alina. It felt like he was clinging onto her for dear life, complaining about anything that he could while, um, they were in the middle of fighting a war! People were dying left and right while Mal glared at Alina for talking to another man about military strategies.
Mal disrupted the story for me because I have never wanted Alina to end up with him. He’s an excessively jealous love interest who has slept with ten times as many people as Alina ever has or will. Hypocritical, much?
I’m unsure about what Bardugo’s goal was with Mal’s characterization. If she made him annoying on purpose, then brava. My hatred of Mal is a personal preference, and I don’t begrudge the book for it. Sometimes unlikable people will pop up in a story just as they would in real life.
The Darkling is not present as much as he was in the first book, but as one of the main characters, he is still much-discussed. Scenes with him were lacking; this was a disappointment–I consider the Darkling to be one of the greatest characters that literature has ever seen.
However, the scenes that did feature the Darkling were not wasted. He made me angry, tugged at my heartstrings, and caused me to cry out in frustration numerous times throughout the novel. His relationship with Alina has been twisted and gradually becomes deliciously disturbing. So, he’s there; Shadow and Bone readers will just have to get used to his occasional place on the sidelines.
Additionally, a plethora of new characters are introduced. They are total game-changers. These people will make you question everything you know about Shadow and Bone‘s setting. There are pirates, princes, warriors who worship Alina as a saint, and so many more. If you thought that this world was fleshed out before, then you’re going to be positively overwhelmed by the new information in Siege and Storm.
From love squares to Darkling lairs, this book’s plot is seductive and shadowed.
Siege and Storm is highly recommended for anyone who appreciated Shadow and Bone; if you’re a lover of magic, adventures on the high seas, high-stakes politics, dark characterizations, or having your heart ripped out while sobbing uncontrollably, you will enjoy every minute of this masterful work.
This book was originally published on June 4th, 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.