As promised in this post from Monday, from now on I’m going to try to put up reviews of all the books I read on this blog, not just on Amazon and Goodreads. I started with my 5-star review of Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo. I immediately read the sequel, Siege and Storm, so here’s my review of that one. Warning – If you haven’t read the first book and you’re as neurotic about spoilers as I am, you might not want to read any further.
SIEGE AND STORM
Darkness never dies.
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 finished Shadow and Bone, the first book in the trilogy, at about 10
PM. Instead of stopping reading and getting ready for bed, I immediately downloaded this sequel and launched straight into reading it, not stopping until it was 3.30 am and I physically couldn’t keep my eyes open. The next morning, I blasted through the rest of it. This hopefully gives an idea of how much I’ve been enjoying the series, and I can’t wait for Book Three to come out next year.
That said, while I gave Book One a definite 5 star rating, I’ve dropped this one to a 4. Most of what made the first book great – the interesting setting, the developed magic, the twists and turns, the fab characters – were still all present and correct but it just didn’t grab and thrill and obsess me to quite the same extent.
I think part of the problem is the one that’s a constant danger for the middle books of epic trilogies: the novelty and the uniqueness and the sense of the main character finding themselves that you get with a good first book has worn off, but until the third book, there can’t be any real resolution. A good chunk of the middle section of the book felt like filler – entertaining, well-written filler, but not something that really advanced the plot.
For me though, the major factor in the drop in star rating was the distinct lack of Darkling action. He was by far my favourite character in the first book and instantly entered the ranks of my favourite characters of all time. It was striking how much my attention waned when he wasn’t around in this book, and perked up in the few instances he reappeared. In fact, it made me feel rather shallow – I thought I’d loved the series for its unusual setting and interesting system of magic, but it turns out that a huge part of it was good old-fashioned crushing over the hot evil guy!
Speaking of evil guys, it was also concerning than whenever he did appear, he was pretty unequivocally evil. I much preferred him aa a darkly sinister love interest than a full blown supervillian, and while there’s a part of me that would still like to see him and Alina end up together, I think he crossed several lines that will make this extremely difficult. It’s good that the author took some risks and moved the plot on, but I preferred the dynamic of the previous book where he was in charge of all the Grisha and been courted by him was an honour. And above all I missed them having any romantic scenes. There were a few tiny hints, but of their few scenes together, most were unutterably grim.
This is a little more rambling and emotional than most of my reviews and I think that’s a sign of how much the book got to me, so can only be regarded as a good thing. You should definitely read this book if you enjoyed the first one, just brace yourself for a bit of a different feel.