Siege and Storm

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So immediately after I finished devouring Shadow and Bone, I practically ran to the library to pick up Siege and Storm. I was wary of this second book, but it exceeded all of my expectations.

This review contains spoilers from the first book.

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I devoured this book, eager to read more of Ravka, of Alina, and of the Darkling. I somehow loved this book even more than the first one.

After Alina and Mal’s escape at the end of Shadow and Bone, I was expecting this book to be one of those intermediate ‘on the run’ books, where the main characters are chased from place to place. Thankfully, this was not that book. It was so much better than that.

The Darkling surfaces with a new and horrifying power that ratchets up the fear and tension present throughout this entire novel. Though I was hoping he died in the Fold, he’s an extremely hateable villain and I admit that his personality and motives make him very compelling. His presence throughout this book was creepy and introduced a kind of doubt in Alina that makes her story even better.

I love Alina’s narrative. As someone who generally dislikes first person stories, Alina’s voice is a breath of fresh air. She reacts to things in ways that seem realistic to me. Her emotions aren’t contrived – and though they may not make sense to other characters, the reader really gets a great sense of who she is. After the events of the first book, she’s less trusting of others. Her love for Mal never wavers, but her relationships with Genya and the Darkling have affected her expectations and perceptions of him. Her character evolves in a way that is totally plausible.

All actions in this series clearly have consequences, and that was fantastic. The little insets of things the Darkling said in the first book were a nice touch that really illustrated that.

Sturmhond was introduced in this book – a Ravkan privateer with an interesting past and a loyal crew. His character turned out to be a favourite of mine. Without giving too much away, his big reveal was crazy but worked really well. I loved his inventive spirit, and his laisse-faire attitude. His patriotism was admirable, especially once you learn more of him.

I generally dislike when multiple potential love interests are introduced, but not here! The possibility for romance is not overt, but it’s suggested. Instead of a love triangle (or quadrangle), Alina is simply given choices.

In this book, readers see the rise of the cult of Sankta Alina, guided by the Apparat, who has gone into hiding. Pilgrims are everywhere, searching for the hope the Sun Summoner can bring them. The politics of Ravka are explored from up close, preparations for war taking center stage.

We get to see more of David, Baghra, and Genya, though their fates aren’t always pleasant or expected.

Without spoiling the whole novel, I thought this was a fantastic continuation of Shadow and Bone, and I’ve already started to read the final book in the trilogy. The world-building is deepened, characters become more complex, and relationships are wonderful and awful – as they can be in real life.

I really can’t overemphasize how much I’m enjoying this series.

What are your thoughts on Siege and Storm, or the Grisha Trilogy? Let me know in the comments below!

Shadow and Bone

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I’ll admit that I’m late to the party on this one, seeing that it was published five years ago and already has a sizeable fan base. As I was searching the library for a new read, the spine caught my eye. It and the cover are gorgeous, and I’m glad it stood out.

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Objectively, this book was standard YA fantasy fare. There’s a simple magic system with rather straightforward world-building. There’s a heroine in love with her best friend, but intrigued by a mysterious stranger.

Well, standard fantasy fare or not, I loved this book.

Some of it was Ravka, the setting that immediately called to mind the stark beauty and culture of Imperial Russia. Some of it was Alina’s voice, and her growth as a character. Maybe it was even the premise of someone discovering within themselves an incredible power that they hadn’t suspected was there, as overdone as that seems to be.

I enjoyed the side characters and their development as well. The Darkling, Baghra, and Genya had interesting storylines that I hope to see more of in the rest of the series.

I didn’t think I would like Alina’s feelings for Mal, but the way they were handled were realistic. I think I liked this book so much because I found people’s emotions and motivations so believable. The characters could have walked right off the page.

From the moment I picked up this book I was absolutely hooked. I was so immersed in the story that I couldn’t put it down. While I usually dislike first person narration, I didn’t find it to be irritating at all. Instead, Bardugo’s writing had me glued to every page.

Alina’s voice was clear and compelling. I was emotionally invested in her journey, in her self-discoveries, and in the friendships and relationships she forged throughout the book.

If you’re looking for a rather incredible take on a straight-up YA fantasy, this is the one for you! I’ve already begun reading the second book as we speak.

Have you read Shadow and Bone? Did you think it was too over-hyped? Did you love it like I did, or not like it at all? Let me know in the comments below!