Book Reviews

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

Book Cover

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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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.

Note: There are spoilers in the below review.

In a twist that’s surprising to probably no one, I liked Siege and Storm a lot more than Shadow and Bone. It’s not just that I find the plot more interesting as a whole, but it’s stronger in so many ways that largely revolve around the fact that Leigh Bardugo has more experience writing this story under her belt. I found her writing to be less flowery and less narrative, and the plot was better constructed. One of the things I had a little bit of an issue with in the first book was how predictable the plot turned out to be. I was never surprised by anything, and all scenarios where there was any sort of conflict were perfectly set up that you already knew what was going to come next. I found that much less so with Siege and Storm, and although I wouldn’t say I was ever really taken completely by surprise, at the very least the details of particular scenes I was uncertain of.

I find Mal to be much more tolerable in this book, although I still have the general opinion that he holds Alina back from accomplishing anything truly great. I also find their relationship much less cringe-worthy, and although I’m still not a fan of it, I didn’t scoff at it every thirty seconds while reading. Part of this I think is that they have moved passed the honeymoon part of their relationship and are no longer proclaiming that they are the only ones for each other, which was extremely annoying in Shadow and Bone. While I didn’t get much of an actual friendship vibe from them in this book as I did in the first one, I still think they do have the potential to nurture that bond into something inseparable. Just without kissing.

One of the main reasons I like this better than the first book is that I really love the sense of a revolution beginning to stir. I appreciate that Shadow and Bone was meant to establish the world and set up a concept of an overarching plot, but it’s in Siege and Storm where we really begin to see things start to crack and break. Not only do we get to meet new characters who are going to be crucial to the fight (Nikolai!), but we also get to see some side characters become more established and involved instead of just being supplementary. It’s starting to look like the Darkling really is evil, which is great, because I spent a lot of time being skeptical about that. Although, there’s still a part of me that wonders if being cruel is a façade and he’s actually protecting a secret. (Kind of like Rhysand in ACOTAR, who I also struggled with accepting as actually good, which I guess is a bit opposite, but still similar.)

I LOVE the new characters. Nikolai is probably one of my favourites, and I adore Tolya and Tamar. They just bring something that’s fun and a little ruthless, but are impossibly loyal and willing to lay down their lives for Alina and the cause. That being said, I definitely did not expect the twist with them actually being part of the Soldat Sol, and it was nice not knowing a twist in advance for once. Rather than feeling betrayed at them keeping this secret, it actually made me more confident in believing that they are in this for the long haul and are passionately dedicated to the good of the rebellion. As for Nikolai, I find him impossibly entertaining and also, I think he has great chemistry with Alina. Quite honestly, I would really be here for her ditching Mal to be with Nikolai. I know she’ll eventually wander over to the Darkling, but really, I’m Team Nikolai for the time being. While Alina and Mal have a shared past, they don’t seem compatible in the present, and I don’t think history is enough to compete with what you actually have in the present, and for Alina, that sure ain’t Mal.

Alina has matured in this book a lot, and I really appreciated it. In Shadow and Bone she never seemed true in her emotions, and they were never unadulterated by something else. She often said she felt a certain way, but her actions never mimicked those feelings. In Siege and Storm, she seems to really have come into herself and recognised how much she is actually capable of – and turns out, she’s pretty powerful. She’s not a bad leader, just unexperienced. I really loved how she insisted that the Grisha were no longer going to be separated, but intermingled instead. However, I still question some of her actions – or rather, her inactions. She’s known (or she thinks she knows) about the Darkling’s true identity and true motive now for a book and a half, and yet she has yet to tell anyone about it. At least two times she falls into conversation with someone when the Black Heretic comes up, and she always thinks to herself about how no one knows the real truth. Bitch, then tell someone??? Why are you keeping this to yourself??? Particularly because it feels like she’s always looking down on them as if they are so naïve they can’t help themselves. But really, how is that their fault, if nobody will tell them the truth? That being said, I’m still quite skeptical of this story about the Darkling to begin with. Something about Baghra’s story just doesn’t feel right, and it feels like Alina is still missing some information, or that the information she received wasn’t completely truthful.

I still have many questions at the end of this book, which I hope will be answered in Ruin and Rising. One, the true intentions and goals of the Darkling. Two, how their relationship progresses, because knowing that Alina and the Darkling’s relationship is a fan favourite, I’m still not seeing it. Three, is Mal going to die? It feels like Mal has to be sacrificed to the cause. Four, please give Genya a redemption, some slack, just please give her something to make up for everything she’s been through. And five, where the hell is Nikolai?? He just disappears, and then no one wonders where he went? Did I miss something? And also six, will I ever like Zoya, knowing that she’s a main character in the King of Scars duology? So many answers needed, and Ruin and Rising is not that long of a book, y’all. I’m really liking this series. The start was a little weak, but I can see this ending strong. At the very least, now I feel comfortable starting Six of Crows, which is very exciting and highly anticipated indeed.


Leigh Bardugo

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