Alina and Mal have made their way across the True Sea where they hope to build a new life for themselves in anonymity and far from the Darkling. For a while, this works out. But the Darkling hasn’t given up on Alina and her powers, and he has gained some new powers himself. When he finds them in hiding, he brings them back to Ravka with the help of privateer Sturmhond – but not before taking a detour that will affect Alina and her powers even more.
I wasn’t absolutely enthusiastic about the first novel, and Siege and Storm engaged me on about the same level of enthusiasm. The book is a good read, but I had at least as many issues with it, as I enjoyed it.
In my last review I wrote that Alina has some growing to do, some making her own decisions, and that does happen in this one, so that’s definitely a good thing. Her decisions aren’t always great, but that’s not necessary anyway – she at least tries to take control of her own life and I applaud her for it. It also helps that the book actually expands the horizon for its events beyound Alina and takes in the global scale of events.
That being said, I can’t even tell you how frustrated I was when this turned out to be a “The love triangle is dead, long live the love triangle” kind of story. So, the Darkling is out of romance territory (pretty much, although there is still a completely unnecessary remnant of it), but he is substituted with Nikolai? Aww, you shouldn’t have. No, I’m being serious, you really shouldn’t have. I mean, Nikolai is a pretty great character (for the most part, definitely not when he kisses Alina without her consent), and his banter in general and with Alina is the most fun part of the book, but sheesh, do we always need that kind of drama? And at the same time, the problems between Mal and Alina don’t make sense to me at all.
Plus, I absolutely hated Genya’s arc. She was my favorite character in the first novel, and she is completely obliterated here. Punished for trying to get out of slavery by any means necessary, even if that meant betraying Alina. And that her punishment is the destruction of her beauty also made me sigh. (My edition did include a short story that captures some events of the first book from her perspective that made up for it a little bit.)
So, while Siege and Storm is definitely a quick read and I’d say it’s an overall improvement compared to Shadow and Bone, it’s equally aggravating. And yet, engaging enough for me to finish the trilogy.