Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
FROM THE BACK COVER:
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner―hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.
The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.
But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice―and only she can face the oncoming storm.
During Siege and Storm, Alina has found herself more powerful than she had ever imagined but is somehow still not as powerful as she wants to be. The book centers around her game of cat-and-mouse with the main antagonist, known only to the reader as the Darkling, an appropriately named master of dark magic. In her pursuit to beat him at his own magical game, Alina seeks out a series of amplifiers that will increase her power exponentially, all while trying to stay out of reach of the Darkling, who wants to capture her (again) and use her as a weapon (again). As a result, we’re taken on an adventure crisscrossing here there and everywhere across the Grishaverse.
While I really enjoyed following Alina and her friends, most notably her best friend and quasi love-interest, Mal, through this book, it read at a slower pace to me than the first and was full of internal dialogue and drama to the point that I started skimming since so many of the internal moments were repetitive. Alina is caught in an unbearably tough situation that might very well end in the death of not just her but those who love her and fight alongside her. It is understandably an difficult predicament and is worthy of so much inner turmoil, but it felt like half the book was her battling with herself over her choices. I tend to get weary of this, because it slows the action down so much.
Speaking of choices, there are a few potential love interests weaved into this story, including Mal of course, the Darkling (sort of, in a drawn-to-you-but-hate-you kind of way), and a surprise character named Sturmhond. However, none of them really felt full of spark and romance. Her banter always felt better with Sturmhond, and to me their chemistry read better than hers and Mal’s, who continues to be a rock by her side, despite ever-growing differences. Romance is politically advantageous with Sturmhond, ridiculously dangerous with the Darkling, and should be more natural with Mal (although that relationship takes a serious nose-dive during this book) but it never really clicks with me for any of them. I can’t even say that there’s some weird kind of love triangle, because Alina never really pursues any of the men. Why? Because she’s trying to save the freaking world and doesn’t have the time or mental capacity to deal with it.
If you’re looking for a book that’s primarily romance, this is not it. There are romantic elements, but Alina has bigger issues to deal with (saving the world and all that), and I appreciate that about Bardugo – that she can tell a story about a young heroine who, while aided and influenced by her love, isn’t completely wrapped up in it and can lead the charge in a story without constantly getting weak in the knees over a boy.
On the other hand, I did frequently wish Alina would be less frustrating when it came to everything else she was dealing with. She’s a character on a pendulum, swinging from too flaky to too serious fairly often. Thankfully, though, the supporting characters are always there to bring some much needed humor and humanity into the situation.
In the end, I would definitely recommend this book. It’s full of adventure, new lovable characters, and excitement. Bardugo’s writing continues to impress and inspire, and I’m anxious to see where the story goes next, especially after such an intense ending to this installment! 4.5 out of 5 stars to Siege and Storm!