Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo 4.5

One thing that I love about Leigh Bardugo's writing is her style and immense imagination. The Grisha Trilogy takes place in a world like none other. There's magic and wonder, there's wars and blood, tehre's love and friendship. Everything is so vivid; it wasn't hard for me to fall back into Ravka without a second though.

Siege and Storm is the second in the Grisha Trilogy. Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling and the terrible forces he commands after a showdown in the Shadow Fold that left them shaking. Trying to hide her true calling as the Sun Summoner, Alina aligns herself with allies that she could have never forseen and also faces off against some terrible foes, including the Darkling himself.

Even though this is a world based in magic and myth, it's an extremely character based story. Alina definitely grew from the first book...although into what remains to be seen. Her power is rapidly growing and as it does, her connection to the Darkling amplifies. She's scared and unsure of herself most of the time. She wants to protect those around her but she doesn't quite know how. As the book progressed, so did Alina's drive to finally take a stand against the Darkling. She comes up with a plan, she takes lead of an army...she gets tougher skin. But what does she lose along the way?

Then there's the love triangle that's not a love triangle...more like an emotionally destructive triangle. Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. Mal, whom I adored from the first book, is just as strong and loyal here. He loves Alina and has sacraficed everything for her. But when they arrive back in Os Alta, he finds his place isn't next to Alina anymore. He's pushed aside and my heart broke for him as he struggled to deal with being a solider in the Sun Summoner's army as opposed to her lover. The other side of the triangle belongs to the Darkling, with whom I have an unhealthy love for. He's just so dark and mysterious that I can't help but be drawn to him - even when he's killing half the population of Ravka (and probably laughing while doing it). Every chapter I found that I craved more of him - more knowledge of who he is, more raw feelings he sheds so easily, anything. For me, it is so obvious that Alina should stay with Mal. He's safe and they love each other and, most importantly, Mal doesn't want her for his own evil purposes. But on the other hand, I can see the intrigue of the Darkling and why Alina is so drawn to him despite her hatred of him.

There is a new character introduced in this book: Sturmhond. Just pure and amused love for this man. He's deceiving, dishonest, cocky, arrogant, but hell bent on fighting the Darkling. He joins forces with Alina and Mal and what follows is full of secrets and lies that really threw me for a loop. Sturmhond is not who everyone thinks he is and I look forward to more with him.

This book didn't pack quite the same punch as the first one did for me, but that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy it. I did. Immensely. The story was solid but the pacing was a little off at times and I found parts dragging as Alina, Mal, and Sturmhond planned and waited. The last 3/4 of the book, however, really flew by in a mess of OMG. The ending solidified my belief that this is one of the best fantasy book series I've ever read and guaranteed that I will be one of the first in line for the final book.

This review can also be seen here on my blog.