Sunday, 23 March 2014

Review || Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★☆
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.

This series continues to deliver and I'm sort of ashamed it's taken me so long to pick up this book. Granted, I read the first book Shadow and Bone back in February 2013. And I had to wait on an inter-library loan from the other side of the province to get my hands on this. But still.

It doesn't take long for the action to get rolling in this book. And though it comes in fits and starts after that, the underlying tension never really goes away. I was floored by a twist in the first handful of pages and never really was able to trust the book again. (Which is totally a good thing!)

The Darkling continues to walk this line of sensuality and downright creepiness. And I continued to love every second of it. It gave me the willies.

Mal and Alina's relationship undergoes a lot of changes in this book (not all of them good) and some of the hot and cold left me feeling a little frustrated. Mal, for whatever reason, was just not as likeable in this book as I found him in the first. And, granted, it doesn't help that he's being held up against Sturmhond.

Oh. My. God. You guys. Sturmhond. I have seen bits and pieces of this character mentioned in the skimming and scanning of reviews. And I didn't get it. I wasn't sure how people could be singing the praises of a character that wasn't even in book one.

I'd like to apologize to everyone, because holy hell was I wrong. Sturmhond is everything I love in a character. Morally ambiguous, clever as hell, cunning, witty. His biting wit and sarcasm was brilliantly delivered and I was almost instantly charmed.

And yeah, okay, his presences adds yet another love triangle to the series. But I honestly didn't mind. Because there is so much else going on in the book that those sorts of things naturally fell away after a while. (And it didn't hurt that Sturmhond actually listens when Alina tells him she's not interested.)

The politics and intrigue really take centre stage when the action isn't overwhelming. And there is so much of it going on it's glorious. There's politics with the Ravkan king and princes. The First and Second Armies. The threat of the Darkling still looming. The Apparat and his cult. It's a very delicate balance.

And it's one easily shattered. While I appreciated the suddenness of battle, I was sometimes let down by the resolution. The last battle at the end of this book is particularly guilty of this. It was just kind of disappointing in its resolution.

The book as a whole was good--really good, in fact--but not outstanding. There were still things that left me wanting. And I was never overcoming with the desire to throw the book across the room because I couldn't stand how good it was. (This is one of my criteria for a 5-star book, in case you didn't know.)

But regardless. And excellent sequel to what is shaping up to be an excellent trilogy. I can't wait to see where Ruin and Rising takes us. And I'm particularly intrigued to see how Alina's power and brutality end up shaping her choices further. I can't wait for June!