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Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo
Is it 2014 yet? I need book #3 now!


What an exciting, thrilling sequel to Shadow and Bone! I have to admit, the middle part stretched out longer than I would've liked, although I do understand that it was necessary to go through the boring strategy meetings, the restlessness and the depressing moments for us to fully get the internal turmoil that Alina was going through.

So what did I love about this one?

1. Alina - She was a far more interesting character here than in the previous book. She is still insecure and hesitant, and understandably so, because now she's burdened with the responsibility of not only saving herself and Mal, but the entire Ravka. And in order to do that she must destroy the Darkling. To top it off she's under the watch of the king and any wrong move could mean the end for her and for Mal. But something changes in her and I won't spoil it for you because it happens near the beginning of the book. While she's growing stronger in power, her struggles are also increasing. I loved what I felt during every circumstance that she was miserable and feeling helpless, not because I find joy in other people's misery, but it's indicative of how much the writing and the story got to me. The angst, the torn loyalties, the heartbreak - I loved them all! So congrats, Ms. Bardugo. You certainly succeeded in evoking all the feels.

2. Mal - Finally, the boy shows weakness. I crave imperfection in characters and he's certainly won me over even though there was this one thing he did that absolutely made my blood boil. But again, I loved that he managed to get a rise out of me instead of me feeling indifference towards him like I did in the first book. I have a feeling that he'll play a bigger role in the third book and that excites me to pieces! I'm thinking that there's a meaning behind that jolt that Alina felt when Mal touched her in the woods. I wonder if he's more powerful than he looks. Hmmm?

3. Nikolai - Who is he? You'll find out! *mischievous grin* I knew that the younger prince would eventually make an appearance after he was briefly mentioned in S&B but nothing could've prepared me for that revelation at the beginning of the book! He's smart, charming and often infuriating but I don't doubt his intentions or decisions.

4. The Darkling - Alas, my initial continued hope for the Darkling to be one of the good guys doesn't look too promising. I've openly said that I wanted nothing more than to find out that he is just a powerful man controlled by the Apparat (I dunno, a spell or something) to be used as a pawn for his ulterior motives. In an alternate universe I would love to see him and Alina ride off in the Fold and have darling little Darklings while they rule among the volcra and the nichevo'ya but I don't know if that's likely to happen. Oh well. But seriously, the presence of the Darkling during that looong middle part of the book was the only thing that kept me riveted. His every appearance made my heart leap and I know, I know it's so wrong but I felt his pull just as Alina did.
"Do you think I could have come to you again and again, if you had been less alone? You called to me, and I answered."

And gawd, I know a lot of readers appreciate the fact that Ms. Bardugo doesn't end her books in unbearable cliffhangers but wouldn't it have been epic had it ended at around 97%? I mean, just let me bask in Alina and the Darkling's reunion for a little bit and let your imagination run riot until the next book. That was resolved quite a bit too soon for my liking. But I'm obviously biased and in the minority here so... whatevs.

Not too sure how I feel about Alina now leading the cult bourgeois. I'm still suspicious of the Apparat. But here's what I think. Now that Alina's power is gone I have a feeling that Mal will step up and finally get the chance to be an equal or take the reigns on the "power." We'll see how this plays out. I can't wait!

Overall, I'm pleased with the outcome of the book. I loved the desperation, the loneliness, the excitement and the determination of the characters. They definitely took center stage in this installment. LOVED THIS BOOK! 5*!!!