Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

I’m always wary about reading the middle book in a series, since so many suffer from the dreaded “second book syndrome.” We all know the symptoms: slow-moving plot, character regression, and an immense feeling of disappointment while reading. Thankfully, that was not the case with Siege and Storm, which was just as good as its predecessor.

Siege and Storm picks up almost immediately where Shadow and Bone left off, providing the reader with immediate action and many unexpected plot twiststhat will keep you on the edge of your seat. The inclusion of original fairy tales and mythology, coupled with exquisite food dishes, beautiful clothing, and vivid settings add even greater depth to the imaginative world of Ravka.

Alina is no longer the weak, naive girl that we saw in Shadow and Bone; she’s truly coming into her own, though the journey is decidedly bittersweet. Alina begins to hone her strength and assert herself in anticipation of a fight with the Darkling, though she struggles against the desire to attain even more power – and the repercussions that it could have for herself, her relationships, and Ravka.

Though I know that I shouldn’t care for him, the Darkling still holds the honour of being my favourite character in this series. He’s quite an intriguing and complex character: he’s power-hungry, manipulative, and could even be described as evil, though he also has touches of humanity that are difficult to ignore. To my dismay, his presence in this book is minimal, although he captured my full attention whenever he appeared in a scene – especially when showing off his dark new skills.

A new character is introduced in Siege and Storm, and he managed to win me over with ease. Sturmhond is witty and charming, bringing much-needed touches of humour to story. He’s also incredibly well composed, calculating, and adaptive, which are necessary qualities given his agenda.

And then there’s Mal. He started to grow on me towards the end of Shadow and Bone but, sadly, I didn’t like him in this book. He spends too much time feeling insecure in his relationship with Alina. I understand his reasoning – after all, she is the most powerful Grisha and he is a tracker who deserted the army – but after a while, I got tired of reading about it. Hopefully he’ll be more like his end-of-book-one-self in the sequel, since that guy was pretty adorable.

If I haven’t made it clear already, I absolutely loved Siege and Storm. It’s unputdownable and the perfect example of how to write a proper middle installment. I can’t wait to see what happens in Ruin and Rising – until then, I’ll be traipsing about in my very own kefta and trying to befriend guys that look like the Darkling.

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