So often second books in a series don’t live up to the first, especially when the first book is blow-your-mind amazing. I’m happy to announce that not only did Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm match Shadow and Bone, it surpassed it. This is an exceptional second book, and fans of the first won’t be disappointed.
What’s it about? Here’s the description on Amazon:
Darkness never dies.
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.
This book is much darker (ha! Get it?) than the first one in the series. The tension is there like before, but in new and different ways. There’s a lot of crazy stuff happening inside of Alina’s mind, and it gets a bit freaky at times (in a good way!). Her struggles with this new power and her responsibilities to her friends, country, and herself are all wearing on her. Seeing how she deals -or doesn’t deal, depending- is one of the core points of this book. Leigh pulled on my heartstrings with this struggle, and it was excellently executed.
The struggles between Mal and Alina are also extremely well done. As she’s evolving he’s trying to keep up, and there’s always this doubt in her mind as to whether he can truly understand her. Granted, it is a doubt placed by the Darkling, but that doesn’t deny the truth of it. Seeing their relationship progress was hard, enlightening, and at the end, endearing. I can’t wait to see what happens in book three.
The plot goes to a whole new level in this book too. Leigh plants a few subtle clues in book one that help add to the story in book two, but there was no way I could have guessed the direction she was taking the story in based on the first book. So it was like a whole new world opened up to me with the full opportunities that are presented to Alina in Siege and Storm. I cannot wait to see how the story progresses in book three, because the doors that opened really leave a lot of room for interesting and powerful things to happen. I don’t want to get too specific, because I don’t want to give anything away, but it was wonderfully done.
The author brings forward familiar and beloved secondary characters from the first book, and adds a few new people to them (most noteably Surmhond, a deliciously rakish sea pirate), and this combined with the introspection and higher stakes makes for a fantastic page-turner. Siege and Storm took the series to a whole new level. I can’t wait to see what she does with book three!