MAJOR SELLING POINTS:
If you're reading all my reviews, firstly, wow you have some dedication, I thank you. Secondly, you have probably noticed that I love my YA fantasy. Like I said in my SHADOW AND BONE review, Bardugo has created a fantasy world better than most. Ravka is rich in culture and the world building continues to be as good in SIEGE AND STORM, where we get to see a little more of the world outside of Ravka. The dynamics between various groups in the world and the conflict that arises because of the differences and perceptions are great to read about. Plus, the Grisha have awesome powers which we get to see used in new ways in SIEGE AND STORM.
If you haven't heard about the greatness that is Sturmhond by now you must be living under a rock. I was reading reviews and everyone seemed to be raving about this guy. And you know what? Sturmhond is actually better than they describe, such an intriguing character! I'll go into it a little more in his character section below, but trust me. You will love him. And he's a pirate privateer, so he gets extra points from us buccaneers.
SIEGE AND STORM was hard to read. Because I didn't want to stop and had three exams to study for. I really didn't want to put the books down. I had to hide it away. As a result I read it slower than I wanted and I think I passed the exams...
SIEGE AND STORM definitely managed to avoid the dreaded Second Book Syndrome. I found it much more enjoyable than SHADOW AND BONE with its faster plot and numerous action scenes. The plot started racing so much sooner than I expected. You get to the end of the first or second chapter and shit starts going down, and it doesn't stop for a while. The middle was a little slow, and some plot points are a tad predictable, but then the ending. The Ending. OH. MY. GOD. The ending is hands down my favourite part of the book. There's so many twists, and a cliffhanger, and just action and awesome and dire situations and it's just glorious. I'm still reeling from the ending and I think I finished SIEGE AND STORM two or three days ago (before I wrote this)... It feels longer though because I just want the next book. *cries*
This is always the hardest part for me to write because half the time I'm so caught up in the book I don't even remember to pay attention to the way it's written. The only time it stands out if it is exceptionally slow or bad or just so fantastic I envy it. Bardugo's writing falls in between good and fantastic on my scale. I liked the writing in SIEGE AND STORM more than in SHADOW AND BONE. There were a couple of times I wanted to stick a sticky note in the page where there was just a beautiful quote. Sturmhond's words of wisdom were hilarious, and the descriptions had their moments. I'm going to have to reread the finished version and mark the pages in that.
Alina surprised me so much in this book, mainly at the end I must admit, but still. She struggled with so many things in this. Along with relationships, power, leadership, she was shouldering the hopes, dreams, and expectations of a large group of people. I don't think I'd cope with that kind of pressure. But Alina does, and she does it well. It changes her into someone I think I might admire more. We also have that final act/twist at the end. I was not expecting that! I never knew she'd have the strength or determination to even make a decision like that knowing the outcome! It will be interesting to see how Alina develops further in the final book.
Mal is the main source of my emotions and heart break in SIEGE AND STORM. My reread of SHADOW AND BONE convinced me to love him. He's so sweet and dedicated. In SIEGE AND STORM he continues to be like that... Mostly. He does start to struggle with a lot of things, as to be expected, and what he says and does because of those things breaks my heart. I think I almost cried once because of Mal (and Alina).
In SHADOW AND BONE I loved the Darkling. Loved him. Now? The dude is creepy. Really, really, really creepy. The Fold changed him. He's dark, and power hungry, and probably crazy, and creepy. Why is he creepy? Because of his god forsaken new power. Admittedly it's kind of cool. Not really though because things like that should never exist. Ever.
We actually get to see quite a lot of the Darkling in SIEGE AND Storm, more than I was expecting. The way he... shows up in scenes adds to his already high creepy levels. I hated these scenes. I hated them so much cause they *shudder*. Yet somehow I still loved them and still love him. The Darkling is a good villain. I just don't like how he makes me see things in the shadows.
From the first scene Sturmhond appeared he became one of my favourite characters in the series, and managed to progressed to Favourite status by the end of the novel. He's hilarious! Almost every scene he had I was laughing at some point. He's also a fantastic leader, inventor, and just an all round great person. Sturmhond earned my respect and adoration with every decision and statement he made. I really just want to gush about him.
Another thing: there is a little twist about his identity that I managed to predict, but only because I reread SHADOW AND BONE before starting SIEGE AND STORM. The foreshadowing about him is literally one sentence, and if I hadn't picked up on the tiny tidbit, it would have been a big shock for me, as it's probably going to be for a lot of people. Anyway, I can't wait to see what happens to him in the third book, to watch the type of man he becomes.
The romance in this book is painful. So very, very painful. And yet there were so many moments that were also incredibly sweet that make my shipper heart very pleased. But like I said, it's mostly painful. Mal and Alina start of good, but then they have their issues. Mal does and says things that make Alina sad and sort of made me want to grab him by the throat and throttle some sense into him. And there's still romance between the Darkling and Alina. A little bit anyway. Just like almost everything else involving the Darkling in SIEGE AND STORM, it's creepy. Yet I still ship it. And a billion other couples.
-Alina x Mal
-The Darkling x Alina
-David x Genya
-The Darkling's new power x NOPE
-The Darkling heart (does he even have one?) x Sharp Instruments
-Sturmhond x Alina (very briefly. Not a major ship)
-Sturmhond x Hilarity and Awesomeness
-Ravka x Peace and Light
-Me x The next book