[Review] Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Can I give Nikolai and only Nikolai 5 stars? He deserves 5 stars for carrying this entire book.

Pages: 385
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Available formats: Paperback, Hardback, eBook and audiobook

Synopsis: 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. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. 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.

I’m not going to get into major plot spoilers in this review but there will be minor spoilers for certain scenes. If you haven’t read my review for the first book in the Grishaverse – Shadow and Bone – you can check it out here.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Siege and Storm was disappointing for a few reasons. The plot progression was pretty lacklustre. Something major happens within the first 100 pages then we have another 200 pages of not a lot, until the final 50 where we hit the climax of the novel and set up for the final book. In short, 150 or so pages couldn’t have been cut from the novel and not a lot would have changed. Alina was alright but similarly to Shadow and Bone, she doesn’t do much. She has some pretty cool moments but she’s mostly pretty passive until she’s required to take control back to further the plot.

Nikolai is an absolute delight and without him I probably would’ve DNF’d. From his introduction he’s clearly the most interesting character and by end of the novel he still has so much more to give. All of his dialogue was so purposeful and sometimes absolutely hilarious, every scene with him was a joy. I loved the introduction of Tamar and Tolya, I enjoyed their story and look forward to getting to know them more. The Darkling is absent for the most part so he didn’t really develop much. I’m still waiting to see him in his full villainous glory, hopefully he’ll get there in Ruin and Rising.

Mal completely ruins Seige and Storm for me. His character is useless and only serves to emotionally abuse Alina, but even then he can’t do that right. A large part of this book is Mal’s struggle with who Alina is, in both her powers and her role to save Ravka. He even asks Alina if she would give up her powers for him even though she literally did that (albeit unconsciously) for most of her life until now and he completely ignored her because of it. There’s this sort of pseudo-love triangle happening with Zoya and he ends up necking off with her without realising Alina is watching. His pull to Zoya makes no sense at all. The purpose of this scene being there is to play into Alina’s internal struggle with her powers and her relationship with Mal. Surely it would’ve made more sense for him to be involved with some solider in the First Army? If Alina saw him with a normal girl it would’ve furthered her character and pushed her towards embracing her powers and letting go of Mal, but because it’s another Grisha, specifically Zoya, it just plays into Alina’s insecurity beauty and jealousy.

Mal is just a dickhead in every scene. Every time the book would pick up and get interesting he’d pop in out of nowhere, not only to make Alina feel like shit for no reason but also to ruin my enjoyment of the damn book! Honestly the Darkling should’ve killed him on the whaler. At least then Alina could’ve had a full on revenge motive against the Darkling and her internal struggle could’ve been between being with the Darkling or destroying him for Mal. *sigh*

Well, those are my thoughts! A few of my friends are a fan of this series and they warned me Siege and Storm was the worst book and they hate Mal as much as I do. I really hope he’s less annoying in Ruin and Rising, hopefully Toyla will shove him in a well so he’s stuck there for most of the book. 😂

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