Siege and Storm (Grisha, book two)
By Leigh Bardugo
Published 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.
WARNING: There may be spoilers for book one ahead. To read my review of that title, go here.
Alina is living a completely different life than she had just a few short months ago. Hunted and on the run because of her tremendous powers, Alina wishes only to make a life with Mal. Things are not so simple, though, and it isn't long before the Darkling emerges once again, threatening Alina and everything she holds dear.
After being initially reluctant to read the first book, I devoured it and eagerly anticipated book two's release. I knew this would be one of the first ARCs to disappear from the publisher's booth at TLA so I was unsurprised but still disappointed when I didn't manage to snag one. And so I waited for the release date, knowing my name was at the top of the holds list.
One of the things I loved most about the first book was the worldbuilding, and I think Bardugo has continued to do that extremely well in book two. Readers are given more knowledge about the world of Ravka and the magic that inhabits it throughout this story, while also following Alina and Mal and their struggles to escape from the Darkling and protect their country. In book one, I found Alina to be sometimes annoying, but I really loved the direction her character took in this story. I love that Bardugo has aligned her so closely with the Darkling, leaving readers to question whether or not they should really be rooting for her. I was disappointed in the melodrama surrounding Alina and Mal's relationship - there were a number of times where it seemed like a simple apology or explanation would have cleared the air between the two but they were both too stubborn or obtuse to realize it. It was a bit frustrating watching their relationship and its seemingly invented stumbling blocks.
There is a lot of action in this book, which I think keeps it moving along at a fairly quick pace, though I did find some of the bits without action scenes to drag a little. I loved the introduction of Sturmhond - what a fantastic character! I don't know how Bardugo does it - keeping me interested in all my old favorites and enticing me with new ones. Sturmhond provides a lot of the comedy in this book and I think it works really well here - I nearly always enjoy some humor mixed in with my dark adventures.
I also loved Bardugo's further exploration of religion in this book. I thought it was really well-done and thought-provoking, and provided even more issues for Alina to deal with. I think this is a brilliant series and I cannot wait for book three. I'm expecting it to be absolutely fantastic.