Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult-Fantasy
Series: The Grisha #2
Source: I received a physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Description from Goodreads: 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.
Oh wow was I ever looking forward to this book. It took me forever to get to it because I am so behind in my review copies right now, but I finally did and I enjoyed it so much. Perhaps not as much as the first book and I will tell you why in a minute, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, because it was so, so good.
Leigh Bardugo has this compulsively readable writing style that keeps you flipping the pages even when nothing major is going on. I don’t know how she does it really, but I like it a lot. Her writing really engages me and that’s not an easy thing for any author to do with my sucky attention span these days. It’s definitely a case of ‘I wish I could write like that.’
Also, her characters. MY GOD, her characters. Whether you love them or hate them, one thing I think we can all agree on is how well-developed they are. I get why some people didn’t like Alina in the last book. But I also think if you didn’t like her there, you might grow to love her in this one because I pretty much adored the girl. She grows stronger, is less shallow, and I enjoyed her quite a bit. The only thing that still bothers me is the way she deals with Mal and puts up with his sexist garbage. MAL is an ASSHOLE. A huge one. He is not a good love interest because he only loves Alina when she is weak. He wants her to not be a Grisha, to leave her destiny behind, and just spend her life catering to HIS needs. It makes me want to vomit. I HATE HIM. I’d rather have her end up with The Darkling than Mal. Seriously.
While I’m on the topic of characters, there is a new one that everyone is going to love–this I promise you, and some that we met before but get to know much better. I loved the new depth these characters brought to the story. If it was even possible for this series to get even darker, it just did.
It’s so hard to write reviews for books in a series because there’s only so many things I can talk about without throwing spoilers out there. I guess I could talk about my criticisms, which to be honest, are not many. But…I felt this book lost a little of the magic the first book had. I’m one of the few who feel this way so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt, but Siege and Storm lacked some of the action and excitement I felt Shadow and Bone had. The action scenes that were there were fabulously written and exciting, but there weren’t enough of them. I easily rated S&B 5 stars. Like, it was not even a question. But this book gets a 4 because I feel like the pacing was a bit off. There wasn’t as much tension tearing up these pages. And though it was still good, I found certain parts of it a bit on the boring side. It’s still an amazing second novel, and it definitely does not suffer from middle book syndrome, but it could have used another exciting moment or two. And now that we know what is up with The Darkling, I really felt that lack of tension.
I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if the third book captures my attention as well as the first. Considering this is a trilogy, I hope it finishes strong. I definitely think it will. And you know, I have to make a warning about animal death again. Readers count on me for that, and yes, there was an instance in this book. For some reason, it didn’t particularly bother me as much as the scene in the first book, so there’s that. Just…so you know it’s there. If you haven’t yet started this trilogy, you need to get on that. You are missing something fierce and unique and special.