In 2012, debut author Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone became a topic of conversation on nearly every YA book related blog that I follow. I remember being a little iffy about the book, but once I met Leigh Bardugo on the Fierce Reads tour and learned more about characters and setting, my enthusiasm grew. When I finally read it, the book became one of my favorite reads for the entire year and I could not wait for the second book, Siege and Storm, to come out.
If you’re not familiar with Shadow and Bone, it is a fantasy novel whose world is heavily inspired by Russian culture. The names, descriptions, and mannerisms of characters will feel familiar to you if you know even the tiniest bit about Russian history and culture. The story is centered around a young woman named Alina who learns she is a Grisha, a person with magical abilities. But Alina is more than just a Grisha–she is also the Sun Summoner. Her power combined with that of the most powerful Grisha known to man can finally destroy what is known as the Fold. Unfortunately for all of Ravka, the most powerful Grisha has other plans.
Siege and Storm picks up not long after the end of Shadow and Bone. Alina and her love, Mal, are on the run from the Darkling. It isn’t long before the Darkling finds and captures Alina and Mal. Their salvation comes in the form of Sturmhond, a privateer whose allegiances are given to whoever offers the highest bounty. Like the Darkling, Sturmhond is a character who is far more than what he seems. Alina must decide if he can be trusted, or if he is just as much an enemy as the Darkling. As the fate of all of Ravka rests in Alina’s hands, she will be forced to make decisions that could tear her and Mal apart forever.
Bardugo creates such terrific, heart-wrenching tension between Alina and her male counterparts. I really enjoyed finally getting to see Alina and Mal act as a couple, but Bardugo also lightly flirts with the idea of offering Alina other possibilities. As Alina’s head guard, Mal becomes the subject of malicious gossip and begins to distance himself from Alina. This allows the prince of Ravka to make his intentions known to Alina. And then of course there is the Darkling, to whom Alina was once attracted to, and who keeps appearing in her dreams. The Darkling may be a fan favorite, but he probably isn’t the right choice for her.
Siege and Storm was an excellent follow-up to an amazing debut novel. Alina grew so much as a character, and there were some surprisingly funny moments in an otherwise very tense story. I have no doubt that this series will have an incredible ending. I will miss these characters immensely, but this is a series I will absolutely read again.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Henry Holt and Co. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.