Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (an imprint of Macmillan)
Genre: young adult fantasy
Format/Source: ARC, obtained at TLA
Status: Second book in the Grisha trilogy
Disclaimer: I was given this ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: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 Sumoner 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.
An engrossing and consuming sequel, Siege and Storm creates as many questions as it answers. Alina's loyalty and dedication to Mal, Ravka, the Grisha, and even her self will be tested, as will her powers. Readers will be begging for the sequel by the end.
I.....I just don't know what to say right now. I think I may officially have PTSD after reading this book. You know that scene in 13 Going on 30 when Jennifer Garner starts freaking out over not being friends with Hulk and he goes to get her water and she yells that she also needs a fluffy pillow? That's me right now. I have a case of The Feels. So much happens in Siege and Storm that it's hard to decide what to say and where to start saying it!
I had a hard time putting the book down, even when I was finished reading it. Leigh Bardugo is a literary master who carefully crafts words into masterpieces. I really like the new characters in Siege and Storm, especially Sturmhond, but I'm glad that old faces came back too. It was hard to see Alina struggle to adjust to her new position and witness how that affected her relationship with Mal, but I have faith that things will work out well in Ruin and Rising. Keep reading for the full review.
First, the characters. It was interesting to see Alina somewhat...stunted in the beginning of Siege. She and Mal are trying to keep a low profile as they hide from the Darkling, but shying away from Grisha powers has some unfair consequences for her as she reverts to her old self. However, Alina is a strong character. She has to put up with a lot, from cruel women taunting her as they shamelessly throw themselves at him to running an army. Oh, yes. Running an army. But I'll get to that. Alina doesn't always handle things as delicately as they perhaps should, but she has a good heart and tries to do what she thinks is right, not only for herself but also for Mal, the Grisha, and all of Ravka. A tall order for a young girl with only recently discovered powers, Sun Summoner or not.
As for the guys: Mal is a complete sweetheart. He's the epitome of the Good Guy. Like Alina, Mal doesn't always say and do the right thing, but he tries, especially for Alina. I love his protective nature, his streak of mischief, his complete devotion to Alina. Their story is heartbreaking in so many ways, but it's also comfortable and soothing, like slipping on your favorite old sweatshirt. Meanwhile, Mal has to deal with Prince Nikolai, the king's younger son, who is charming, handsome, and honestly, kind of a rascal. He's like a well-groomed blond Jack Sparrow who can make himself be whatever people need him to be and also has genuinely good intentions. I loved him from the very first words he spoke. Nikolai provides the service as the much-needed comic relief as Genya is not around much to stave off Alina's loneliness. I have a feeling that Nikolai will be more reserved in Ruin, but I still look forward to reading more about him. And finally, the Darkling. Look, Leigh Bardugo is brilliant. I have never (NEVER) been this into the bad boy before. I mean, he is one of the worst baddies I've ever read about, and I still want to rip his clothes off. In Siege, he seems more human in ways and less human in others. Sometimes he seems omniscient and all-powerful, and others, I think the Darkling is fragile and vulnerable. I have no idea where the story is going, but if the climax of Ruin included a shirtless grudge match between these three guys, I will blow up that page of the book and hang it on my wall as art.
The pacing of Siege and Storm was a little odd. It starts off with a bang when the Darkling appears pretty early on, then there's some fighting (a lot of fighting, actually) and a big boat crash that results in the loss of one character and the entrance of another. It's chaotic and exciting. Then things slow drastically with only a few spikes in action before a frantic confrontation in the last couple chapters. However, this kind of worked for me. The slow parts forced me to pay attention to the small details because they turned out to be really important later on. I constantly flipped back to previous pages to look at details and dismissed them as coincidence. Definitely DON'T DO THAT. If I may be so bold, Leigh is like J.K. Rowling in that even the smallest details can be pretty crucial to the story. I mean, did YOU think that Ron's chocolate frog obsession would lead to the discover of Nicholas Flamel? Neither did I, and the seemingly inconsequential details of the Grisha novels are actually a lot more important than you'd first realize.
I think I'll stop there because a lot happens in Siege and Storm, and I don't really want to spoil it all for you if you haven't read it yet. No, it does not suffer from Second Book Syndrome so yay! I think Siege is great at bringing up questions that the reader may not have considered before. There's action, humor, and a little (not enough for me, but a little) butterfly-inducing romance. There are scary things-that-go-bump-in-the-night and eccentric privateers and charming princes, swoony boys and kickbutt girls. Basically, this series has everything you're looking for. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go cuddle with that fluffy pillow now. I haven't gotten all the Feels out yet.
Edited to add:
This is Leigh's reaction to my review! So...it could happen!
@knoxdiver ahhhh! thank you for the lovely and generous review. also, shirtless grudgematch? Why didn't I think of that?
— Leigh Bardugo (@LBardugo) August 30, 2013
About the Author:
Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives in Hollywood, where she indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as makeup artist L.B. Benson. Occasionally, she can be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.
She is the author of the New York Times Best Sellers, Shadow & Bone and Siege and Storm (Holt Children’s/ Macmillan). The final book in the Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, will be published in 2014. She is represented by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of New Leaf.