Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy #2) / My rating: ★★★★☆
One sentence summary: Sun Summoner Alina Starkov meets a peculiar privateer, makes new allies, tries to make the best choices to protect herself, her friends, and to save her country, and can’t escape the shadow of the Darkling.
“Weakness is a guise. Wear it when they need to know you’re human, but never when you feel it.”
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Plot: Siege and storm is darker and tenser than the first book in the series, Shadow and Bone. It delves deeper into the politics of the universe, and it further blurs the already blurred lines that had been established in the first novel. What I love most about this book – and this series – is that there is no clear, clean answer as what is good, what is right, and what anyone – particularly Alina – should do. Alina can summon light, and the Darkling summons darkness, but they are intrinsically connected to each other’s power. I loved delving deeper into this theme throughout the book, grappling with the choices Alina had to make with as much difficulty as she was. I did feel as if the pacing fluctuated slightly, moving fast at the beginning and then slowing for a long period during the middle of the book before picking up right near the end. I liked the plot of the first book more, but I really enjoyed reading this book and I love following the story as it gets darker and increasingly complicated.
Characters: While I enjoyed the plot of the first book better, the characters in this one take the cake. Siege and Storm introduced new characters who definitely grew to be the highlight for me. Namely Sturmhond, the privateer. He’s sharp, he’s funny, he’s strong and confident and cagey. My favorite parts in this book were definitely any that he was in, and I really look forward to seeing more of him in the final book. I also liked Tamar and Tolya, the Heartrender twins, though I felt this book only touched the surface with them and I hope we’ll get to know them more deeply. Siege and Storm definitely complicated the relationships between Alina and, well, everyone in this book, namely Mal, and it’s my hope for them that they still end up together in the end (that is, if everyone survives). I’m still not sure how I feel about the Darkling. I still really don’t like him, particularly when it comes to his sexual nature with Alina, which may be be an unpopular opinion, but it just niggles me the wrong way. However, I really hope we learn more about his past in the third one- I’d love to get to know his character more deeply and see how my feelings change.
Writing: My opinion of Bardugo’s writing isthe same for this book as it was for the first- it’s lovely, easy and smooth to read, never hard to follow, and told the story well.
Was I satisfied? Yes! I did like the first book more, but this book was a great second installment- and it really sets up the excitement and intrigue for the third and final book well. I’m so excited to see how the trilogy ends.