Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Alina is back and on the run. Crossing the True Sea with Mal, she finds herself hidden away in a different kingdom, a stranger in every sense of the word. And while she enjoys her alone time with Mal now that they have confessed their affections to each other, it is not all peaches and cream and paradise of love.
It doesn't take long for Alina to find herself in another sticky situation. After all, they have to barter what they have, which leaves a trail behind. They've hardly had the chance to catch their breaths before they are facing the Darkling once more, and this time he is sporting a terrifying new power that pushes Alina's power to its limit.
She is forced to return to Ravka, and since there is no love triangle between her and Mal and the Darkling anymore, Bardugo introduces the snarky pirate fiend to keep the unnecessary love triangle alive. I truly do not understand why most YA authors feel the need to try to create love triangles at all costs. This story carries so much power on its own, and the relationship drama is just messy, getting in the way of the plot. Especially when Alina has two princes asking for her hand in marriage as well.
Apart from the love triangle flop, I have to say that Alina seemed to come into her own element in this sequel. She is no longer the girl desperate to be loved (although this is perhaps because she has found it now) and appears to have learned from her mistakes. The faults I saw in her in Shadow and Bone don't feel like such a burden in Siege and Storm, and because of that we got along better. In fact, if anything, Mal is the one who started to bug me in this novel instead of Alina.
The plot feels a bit slow at some points, almost as if this entire novel is a bit of a filler between Shadow and Bone and the conclusion of the series, as I felt that a lot of the elements were repeated from the first novel. But Bardugo adds dragons, and pirates and creepy shadow monsters, oh my! These elements really help carry the novel along on to give it is own identity. The introduction of Prince Nikolai is an utter delight. While some of the other characters can feel a bit stale at times, he is such a dynamic and multi-dimensional character and I fell in love with him almost immediately.
We had the stag in Shadow and Bone, and now the ice dragon in Siege and Storm. The promise of the firebird in the final installment of the series has me excited for the finale, as the fate of Ravka rests in the hands of Alina, who precariously balances her desire to help her kingdom and the feel of the power of the Sun Summoner.