It’s been five months since I’ve read Shadow and Bone and now I’ve finally read the sequel.
It’s sad, I know.
BUT OH MY WORD, WHAT A SEQUEL.
I finished Siege and Storm a whole day ago and I still can’t speak. (Okay, I might be stretching that a little, BUT I’VE TRIED TO START THIS REVIEW LIKE TEN TIMES SO…)
Excuse me, that was unprofessional.
Siege and Storm was everything I could want in a sequel. It started off intensely fast, and didn’t let up until the last page was turned. It was brilliant, and I can’t wait for more.
NOTE: Due to the nature of this review, as Siege and Storm is a sequel, if you haven’t read Shadow and Bone or if you have but want to make sure you’re not spoiled for the next book, I’d stop here and read up before checking out this review! :) I don’t want to spoil you on accident (and if I do I’m really sorry!) so it might be safer to skip my nerdy ramblings for now and get your hands on the books. ;) I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free, but sometimes I start ranting and forget! So before you continue on, just make sure you’re okay with that, savvy?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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 a little nervous starting Siege and Storm because I loved Shadow and Bone (my review is up here!) so much and I didn’t want to be disappointed with how the story would play out, but I shouldn’t have worried. Siege and Storm has basically blown me away.
It was incredible. It was captivating. It was exhilarating.
“You were like a stranger, Alina. Beautiful. Terrible.”
There were so many twists and turns and I fell for almost every one. There are some books that grab your emotions and well, this is one of them! There was zero calmness for my poor bookish heart. I AM STILL A MESS.
I don’t want to say too much more about the plot than that (ha, if I’ve said anything at all), but there are a couple non-spoilery things I want to address. :)
- Don’t be fooled by my EMOTIONSSSSS. The plot wasn’t super complicated; I was just in a state of Bardugo Blindness (totally a thing, don’t doubt me!) where I was just so immersed in her world that I didn’t see the twists coming. (Because they were probably pretty predictable. BUT NOT FOR ME.)
- Even though the plot wasn’t all that complex, the pace was still pretty fast! The story kicked off in a rush that I wasn’t used to in a Bardugo novel, and even with its slower parts (that I still enjoyed!), it was set at a faster pace than Shadow and Bone. So if you need fast paced books with every fiber of your being, GOOD NEWS!
There you have it for the plot! I will close my reckless mouth before a spoiler unleashes its fury… (You know, they do that.)
THE WRITING THOUGH. I had no idea how much I missed Leigh’s descriptive style, and I soaked it up (graphic, I’m sorry) from the very first sentence. There’s a place for every writing style, but I have a special love for Bardugo’s. She perfectly balances lyricism and prose; never letting her descriptions last too long or feel out of place. The description in the action sequences, for example, is just enough to visualize clearly without running on and ruining the scene’s momentum. It all flows beautifully and fits the feel of the story perfectly.
I also loved how she let Alina’s personality show through her narration. There was a thoughtfulness to it, a refreshing authenticity unique to itself. The narration would change with Alina’s moods, and it was interesting reading through her lens.
And my friends, need I remind you what a wizard Bardugo is with dialouge? IT. WAS. MASTERFUL. Nothing was there that was unnecessary to the story. She phrased everything so simply and so powerfully; communicated so much through so little. She left so much to subtext and the little writer in me was THRILLED. It resembled real life conversation so well and each character’s voice was distinctly their own.
Sadly, though, the world was a little disappointing. Authors tend to expand too far too fast in sequels (hello Insurgent, King’s Cage) and Siege and Storm was a bit like that. The first half of the book could have used some more attention to worldbuilding, but the second half was done well and swept me back up in the Ravka I’d missed for so long. Maybe it was because it’s been so long since I read Shadow and Bone, but the world felt less mysterious and more like a sound stage with the lights turned on. But then again, I’m a stickler for worldbuilding, and this probably matters to you not one bit. I’m aware of my snobbery!
My main problem (which is seriously petty looking back on it) was that the novel had a tiny bit of a steampunk feel (WHICH I LOATHE AND DESPISE I AM SORRY*) because of some new inventions on the scene, and as you can probably tell, I…I wasn’t a fan. Or maybe it’s just the fact that they mentioned “goggles”…I find that repulsive. My apologies.
*OR NOT! Excuse me while I bash every steampunk book I’ve read on the wall here.**
**Violent, I know, but it’s warranted. I. HATE. STEAMPUNK.
I had mixed feelings about the characters this time around, but I think it was in a good way. If a book can frustrate me just with a character’s actions, I must be invested, right? Let’s discuss them one by one:
- Alina got a little irritating in this book, but mainly, she was a balanced mix of powerful and vulnerable. Even if she does annoy me sometimes, everything she does and feels is understandable…frustrating as it may be. She has a really interesting arc developing, and I’m really enjoying how it’s playing with the story and the other characters’ arcs! (She’s even starting to remind me of our lady Adelina, whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen.) She gets, like, a B+ if I’m grading her.
- The Darkling is ever my favorite (I know, I know), but I’m really curious about his past and his motives. There’s a lot to him that’s yet to be explored and I can’t wait to find out what it is! I wish there would’ve been more of his character in Siege and Storm, so ignore me while I sulk for a moment or two.*
- Mal, though. I AM SO TICKED. At the beginning he was such a great friend for Alina, and I was really starting to warm up to him, BUT NO. He gets super broody and irritating and just…please send him away.**
- Andddd we’ve got the newbie…! My (now very) dear Nikolai. I was definitely iffy about him for a while, but charmed his way into my stony heart and got the better of me in the end. HE WAS JUST SO HILARIOUS AND IT WAS WONDERFUL. I demand a spin-off series at once!
*OR FOR HOURS.
**I hear Novyi Zem is nice this time of year.
The supporting cast was great, too, but not as developed as the side cast in Six of Crows, which is totally acceptable. (Nothing can beat that book, just sayin’!) Each character was developed enough to have their own personalities and distinct voice, which is a feat in and of itself, development aside.
Siege and Storm was a wild ride and gave me a mess of feelings (as you can clearly tell) and I had a fabulous time reading, thinking, and obsessing over it. It was masterfully written, excellently executed, and leaves you wanting to do nothing but start back at the first page. I cannot wait for the conclusion.
Is it okay for me to read?
Language • • • • •
About four instances of mild profanity. (A**, b**t**d, d**n.)
Violence • • • • •
Large, shadowy creatures attack in droves and cause many deaths and injuries. Those scenes might seem a bit intense at times, they never step over the bounds of gory and are very few.
Sensuality • • • • •
Some kissing and innuendo.
Substances • • • • •
A few characters drink; a supporting character gets drunk a few times.
For more about my content ratings and what they mean, click here.