‘Siege and Storm’ by Leigh Bardugo was beyond amazing. It’s been a long time since I read ‘Shadow and Bone’ but this story picked up from the previous one without any trouble.
Alina and Mal are on a ship escaping from Ravka where the Darkling is hunting them. No matter how far they run though, they are caught, rescued, propositioned and rescued again. This sequel shows how the couple are coping on their ever changing journey – Alina is different, and Mal is the same.
Alina was honest with herself when it came to her greed for power and her fears. I applaud this to no end. She was true to herself and was aware of the changes her growing power invited. This level of awareness lent understanding to the Darkling and made the connection between them palpable. I found the Darkling a bit worse for wear in this book. He seemed to me a little more human with those creatures feeding off him. I couldn’t help my sympathy towards him, especially when he made those unbearable raw comments about loneliness to Alina.
Mal seemed to be unchanged to me and this sameness only made the difference in Alina more visible. He needed to stay himself for the story to progress but his feelings and outlook on life took a huge nose dive. I did feel for him, despite not liking him and Alina as a couple, I could almost hear his heart breaking at certain moments towards the end. Sturmhond/Nikolai is a very loveable character. I cannot fault him or any of his decisions. He’s clued up, courageous, strong-willed and he loves his country. Him and Alina would be formidable side by side.
I have a feeling that Mal is the firebird… maybe. Whenever he holds Alina’s bare wrist, she feels a ‘sharp jolt rocked through her’ and later on when she’s trying to take the Darkling down, she notes ‘Mal seized my wrist, and a shock passed through me. Through the haze of blood and shadow, I glimpsed something beautiful, as if through a golden door.’ Perhaps he’s supposed to stay with her until the end, not because of their feelings towards each other but because he is the missing amplifier.
I fell in love hard with this book. I liked the first one but this book went deeper for me. I don’t care what anyone says, I will always ship the Darkling and Alina. They’re different sides of the same coin and I cannot imagine the Darkling not existing whilst Alina does. Also, how come Alina has so many proposals thrown at her and I can’t even get a cat to look at me? So unfair.
“I came here for you. You’re my flag. You’re my nation.”
You can get it here