Release Date ~ June 4, 2013
Henry Holt and Co. ~ Macmillan
ARC received from Raincoast Books for review
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.
A sequel is always tricky, especially when it follows after a book you loved. As excited as I was for Siege & Storm, I was a bit anxious as well, after how much I loved Shadow & Bone I wasn't sure how this sequel would compare.
And I think the simplest way to explain my feelings about Siege & Storm was that I couldn't love it as much as Shadow & Bone. I think it's the kind of book I would have loved so much more on its own, had there not been this incredible first book setting the stage. While Siege & Storm is a good book with some great additions to The Grisha trilogy, you can tell that this is the "growing pains" book where the characters have to adjust to a situation none expected nor wanted.
- Fantastic new character additions:
This was the absolute best part of Siege & Storm for me: I know, I know. Everyone and their mother loves Sturmhond. But it's for good reason! Leigh's writing gives him a voice that stands out so much from other characters, with his clever comebacks and dry wit. He definitely helps balance out some of the more depressing issues at hand in the story, because when things get REALLY bad? Sometimes you just need to laugh. Or, if you're Stumhond, smirk.
- Emphasis on Alina's internal struggle:
For a book that has had so much attention on developing the setting and world of the story, I'm amazed by how much detail is given to Alina's internal struggle as she tries to adapt to her new powers and position. It seems to me that this is truly the most important conflict in the book - moreso than anything with any other character, even the Darkling. Alina's battle isn't with some external force, it's with herself. It's such an introspective story, one where it is truly a privilege to be so in tune with Alina's thoughts and feelings because she doesn't share them with anyone else.
- An expanded setting:
When Siege & Storm starts off, we have Alina and Mal on the run in an entirely different country. They end up meeting a number of other characters from other places as well, and we finally get a bit more of a glimpse at the rest of the world. To me, this is what makes a setting believable and come to life - hints that the world is still turning outside of the main characters' location. I really like that, and I think it helps build the plot and help the reader understand exactly what is at stake here.
The biggest problem for me? So very little happens, and what does happen occurs very quickly. The action feels rushed, and the waiting seems to go on forever. It's a slow book, and I mentioned how introspective and sensitive to Alina's conflict with herself the book is. While that is a good thing, it also means other parts of the story suffer as a result of so much time and focus spent on Alina. Much of the time is spent waiting for something to happen, and I understand that part of this is simply because Alina (and company) are acting defensively. After Shadow & Bone featured SO MUCH (so much action, so much romance, so much creepiness) I was hoping for more, and I think my expectations are mostly to blame here.
But we still have an excellent book here. Leigh Bardugo's writing is as exceptional as ever, and I think really showcases her knack for juggling a multitude of character voices and emotions. She is truly a master at tugging at her readers' heartstrings, and never leaves us with predictable characters or story lines. Although the romance is left on the back burner for most of this book, the tension is incredible and I appreciate that it didn't overshadow the rest of the story.