The second book in the Grisha Trilogy is Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. Now, second books are usually the worst in the series and don’t try to argue with me on that. Y’all know it’s the truth! Okay, well maybe except for Golden Son by Pierce Brown, because that book absolutely kicked ass. But yes, for the most part the second books are usually a downgrade from the first. I even sometimes wonder if writers do this on purpose so the final installment seems even way more awesome than the second book. Admit it, you’re thinking the same thing now! Luckily for Bardugo, I didn’t feel that Siege and Storm was a step down from Shadow and Bone (you can find my full review of it HERE).
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.
Just like in the first book, the action picked up right from the start. There was no waiting around for 200 pages for something interesting to finally happen, which is what I like to call ‘Second Book Syndrome’. No, Bardugo immediately thrusts you right back into the thick of things and has us begging to see where Alina is headed to next (and if you’re like me – hoping that Mal dies in the process). I do know that for some, the middle dragged a bit and the pace never quite caught up until the end but for me that wasn’t really an issue. Instead of action, we got a much more thorough glimpse of the politics and power struggle that Ravka is famous for. With someone who has a degree in a political science, I found this to be insanely fascinating. Don’t worry if you don’t though, the book isn’t all politics!
Siege and Storm still finds Alina a bit whiney and in over her head in regards to where her journey has taken her. However, I was much more pleased with the way she begins to handle the situation. She finally finds a backbone and has learned to take control instead of running from her problems as she cries, “why me?” (if you read the first book then you know what I mean!). Also, her interactions with Nikolai are the best of the entire series, seriously.
Which leads me to Nikolai… Can I just say, that without him this series would have felt incomplete? I can? You agree with me? Oh good! It’s true. In Shadow and Bone, I thought there was something missing. I wasn’t sure if I just wasn’t connecting with the characters or if Bardugo just isn’t a character writer. It’s how I felt, sue me! Other than the Darkling, all of the characters were boring and shallower than I don’t know what. Lucky for me, Nikolai was able to change that! He is funny, charismatic, mysterious, and quite a bit manipulative. So basically he’s the Darkling but with humor! You’re already in love with after reading that description, aren’t you? His conversations and interactions with Alina helped her become a better leader in my opinion. He didn’t tell her what she wanted to hear but taught her to face her destiny. Which, after Mal and the annoying way he acts, she needed this.
Mal. His behavior in this book infuriated me. He was even more selfish than before and I’m not even sure how that’s possible but it happened. He’s even more controlling and emotionally stifling for Alina than the Darkling. He keeps trying to influence her and change the way she is by telling her that he shouldn’t be here, blah blah blah. He knows that will make her second guess her choices and think that it would be better if she just left Ravka to its own devices. What a freaking jerk.
The Darkling is still being his deviant self and wreaking havoc. We see just enough of him to keep it interesting but he’s not so much a focal point as he was during Shadow and Bone. Don’t worry though, he definitely makes some grand entrances!
I would say that this book was pretty equal to its predecessor. It was well written, full of excitement, and throws in some important tidbits here and there that you may blink and miss if you aren’t careful. I also appreciated that we get to see more of the world, rather than just trotting around Ravka the whole time. I still think that characters are a bit of a weak spot but it’s getting better (thank you, Nikolai!). THAT ENDING THOUGH. Fabulous, simply fabulous. I wasn’t expecting it and neither will you. If you are one of those people who got/gets bored during the middle of this book, the ending more than makes up for it so stick around!
Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars