Monday, May 20, 2013

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Release date: June 4, 2013
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 448
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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.
Siege and Storm is one of those books that I don't feel like my words can do justice to. It's one of those books that just entraps you in its pages and spits you out at the end, leaving you a wreck begging for more but also unsure if you could take any more. The people and the world inside feel so real that you can't help but need to hug them and reassure them that everything will somehow turn out okay. But then you remember that they're not real, at least not outside of your head, and you're almost beside yourself with grief. Siege and Storm is a book best rated by emotions, because your rational mind has gone out the window.

There is no strongest aspect of Siege and Storm. The setting, the characters, the plot, and the world-building all work together to create a reading experience. There's no need to pick this book apart; you won't want to.

Even so, Alina's journey is one of the most fascinating I've read. In Shadow and Bone she learned of her physical powers; she honed extraordinary skills and became a Grisha. But in this sequel, Alina is pushed far beyond any bounds she could have imagined. Not only does she have to withstand mental and physical challenges like she's never endured, but she has to take on unprecedented responsibilities--with the lives of many others on her hands. Everything she thought was secure is falling away and she is helpless to stop it--maybe she doesn't want to. There is darkness inside, and she may just have to embrace it to win the war.

Siege and Storm tackles war in such a way that is heartbreaking yet utterly real. It hurts to see people so beat down that they'll believe in anyone who offers a way out. It's difficult to read of men and women who walk to their deaths with their heads held high, all for love of country. War tears countries apart and replaces innocence with hardness.

Siege and Storm is possibly better than Shadow and Bone. Actually, I can almost certainly say it is. Even as Alina has only just found her place, she must fight to preserve that place's dignity--even if it means sacrificing herself in the process. This is a sequel (and a series) you absolutely do not want to miss.

Special note: As I wrote this review, I listened to "Winter Prayer", a song that Leigh wrote, inspired by Shadow and Bone. Find it here.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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