Overall Rating: 3/5
Genre: Fantasy, YA Adventure
Read if you loved: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, Divergent by Veronica Roth
Content warnings: None
Picking up right where we left off, Siege and Storm is the second novel in the Grisha trilogy and plots out the aftermath of the events that unfolded at the end of Shadow and Bone. If you have not read Shadow and Bone – stop right here, because there will be spoilers from the first book.
Alina and Mal are now on the run, simultaneously battling inner demons as well as external forces that threaten to tear them down. Following the Darkling’s explosion of power, Alina is faced with impending questions on duty as she weighs the responsibility that comes with her powers against the danger that awaits her in Ravka. Mal faces uncertainty around his own identity, having abandoned everything he has ever worked towards and unable to carve out a place for himself outside of Alina’s sphere. Where the first novel is heavily focused on establishing the landscape, introducing these characters, and setting in motion the forces that will drive forth the trilogy, Siege and Storm is more honed in on the characters’ emotional journeys while still being relatively plot-driven. This second installment is broodier and slower than its predecessor, and while fans of Shadow and Bone will continue to learn about their favorite characters (while meeting some new ones!), it reads more as a transition or set-up novel for what I hope to be an epic conclusion to the series.
Here’s the thing – a lot of trilogies tend to fall short of expectations in the second book. I discussed this phenomenon with a close friend who is buddy-reading Shadow and Bone with me, and we concluded that this is one of those books you just need to push through to reap the benefits in the grand finale. The characters regressed emotionally and then stayed stagnant throughout, which made for a very frustrating read given the growth they underwent in Shadow and Bone. Their dynamics felt a bit stale at times, and I almost wished we could get out of Alina’s head because everything that was of interest to me, existed tangentially to her experience. The plot starts off slow, drags at certain parts, and felt a bit recycled from the first book. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, but it delivered only a shadow of the excitement I felt while reading the first.
One of the highlights of this second novel were the new characters. Sturmhond and his motley crew were a much-needed addition to a plot that I felt lacked a lot of substance. They injected energy into the story, and helped steer it in a direction that was far more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be when I first started reading Siege and Storm. While not quite as quick as Shadow and Bone, this book is still relatively fast-paced, especially if you push through some of the slumps to get to the action. There is a lot of foreshadowing for the third book which does make it more exciting given the build up of anticipation.
If you are feeling dissuaded by this review – let me tell you that Ruin and Rising is far better (review coming soon!). There is an upswing in action and fun, so consider this book as an investment if you do find yourself wondering where it’s going. What I will say is, I finally watched the trailer for Shadow and Bone and I. cannot. wait.