D arkness 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.
I was on the fence after reading book one, Shadow and Bone, on to continue this series or not. I’d taken Siege and Storm out of the library and read it on car rides, during work breaks, and before I went to bed. I was hooked. Siege and Storm blew the first book out of the water for me. The writing was gorgeous and captivating as ever, and Alina’s 180-degree character development from the deflating attitude during the first book to the power hungry, general-in-training Alina was much more enticing to read about.
First and foremost, I will say that Nikolai was top-notch, my favorite character in this whole entire book and if I do not see a hide nor hair of him in the final installment I am going to be thoroughly depressed. While Alina was struggling with her powers and her connection with the Darkling, seeing him lurking in every corner, and fighting the fissure in her relationship with Mal which she brought down all by herself, Nikolai with his banter, strategic knowledge, and his rampant personalities was a sweet treat to Alina’s story-line spiraling out of control. It takes a lot these days to have me swooning over a character, and Nikolai had me smirking, laughing, and sighing-deeply as I fell harder for his character. His strategical mind and snarky dialogue made him a hole-in-one character in my book, even though he’s a supporting role. I just want all the good things for his character. Just him.
Alina’s choice not to put her trust in Mal, the boy she loves and her best friend since childhood through think and thin, really drove me up a wall. The more she was driving herself away from Mal and complained about it, wishing that things were back to normal, or placing some of the blame of the rift on Mal, the more I was seeing the Alina from book one returning. And I did not want to read about the Alina from Shadow and Bone. I wanted to read the Alina, the Sun Summoner who is sought on finding the final amplifier, the Saint who is going to bring down the Darkling, the Grisha who is going to control an entire army, the girl who is fighting the darkness within her when she’s supposed to be the light of ravka, and be a potentially powerful queen one day. She shone in most of the story, but when the romantic subplot started to take root, I was exhausted with Alina. And when the romance started to derail, I pitied Alina rather than encouraged her to fight and take Mal back.
And how can I even review this book without mentioning the Darkling. Though his character doesn’t get as much page time as he had in Shadow and Bone, he still manages to make his appearances known. But when he does speak, shivered both enticing and chilling are sent through me. Bardugo managed to make the Darkling one of the most complex characters I’ve seen–I don’t know whether to adore him or hate his guts. I did wish that there were more scenes with Alina’s group vs. the Darkling, but that’s just because I’m a sucker for action scenes. And I still can’t get over how sunbeams dazzlingly shooting out of Alina’s hands could be both pretty and dangerous. Bardugo is able to make it happen, so I guess I’ll go with the flow. But I still can’t get the picture of sunshine coming out of Alina’s ass from my mind. No, it’s not in the book. The phrase and her character just clung together like glue since reading the first novel, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Sorry to all readers who now have that image stuck in their minds now, too. ごめん！
Final Summation: A much more thrilling installment to this trilogy. I was captivated, losing track of time and couldn’t even comprehend how many pages I read in one sitting. Siege and Storm was beautifully told, the stakes are higher, some questions still aren’t answered, but the additional characters are exciting and wonderfully developed that I don’t mind waiting for the third book to knock my socks off with possibly crazy secrets revealed and I really want to see this firebird. Book three, here I come!