Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, A Quite Charming Sequel

In more than a week or so, Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo had been offering me a sort of escapism I certainly couldn't say no to. Despite still charmed me as much as the first book did, I found myself subtracting 0.2 from my prior rating due to the slow-movingness of its plot when the story approximately reached 30%. I had enough confidence in Bardugo's capability in terms of forming a surprise twist though, because confirming a statement from a bookstagrammer friend of mine, I also got to meet a very charming character I couldn't help but swoon over much to my liking.

Disclaimer: Please stop scrolling if you haven't read Shadow and Bone yet, or just so you know my review can be found here.

Following where we left off in the first book, Siege and Storm tells the story of the now-runaway Alina and Mal. While trying to keep Alina's true identity hidden, the two decide to go across the True Sea to avoid running into the Darkling or any Grisha army, but soon enough they are discovered and besieged. In the meantime, the Darkling, who has successfully emerged from the Shadow Fold, has become more powerful and dangerous. Right before he can force Alina to do his evil plan though, another party has joined the commotion, and Alina finds herself being paraded back to Os Alta to save the entire kingdom from darkness.

If I have to describe this book in percentage, I will say that the first 30% was interesting, the second 60% was okay though I was still able to enjoy its brilliance because of Nikolai's sole existence, and the last 10% was ultimately the killer. For me, Nikolai was the main reason why Alina's journey to Os Alta blossomed my interest. Everything about him screamed charmingness regardless of how cunning and calculated his moves were. I was more and more captivated every time he opened his mouth. Was a character like him even real? Geez, I was totally bewitched.

Putting the characters aside for a while (more to come, trust me), I'd say that the plot was even darker and thrilling in Siege and Storm. Bardugo admirably explored the politic and magic, even the secrets were all revealed perfectly. Experiencing this journey through Alina's lens was still as entertaining as I remembered. The conclusion was not rushed and cleverly executed also, exactly like what I was hoping for the entire time.

Sadly, the character developments were not thoroughly great. I could neglect Alina's vast decision regarding the Second Army or the other ones she made that were fuelled by inevitable greed, but I was completely disappointed with Mal's progression. Even if I could understand him a little bit, his behavior had snatched away my respect for him which was quite a pity considering that I had liked him in the first book.

That being said, I was thankful that I had not been completely invested in Alina and Mal's relationship in the first place. If in other books I'm usually pretty quick to ship the two main leads, I decided to do the opposite in Siege and Storm. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I was being careful not to hurt myself hoping for either Alina-with-Mal, Alina-with-Nikolai, or Alina-with-the Darkling to happen, or perhaps I just haven't found the most stand out couple out of the three options. Don't get me wrong, I truly loved them as a character but to avoid unnecessary disappointment I supposed I liked it better this way.

Overall, this book was a very enjoyable read and so I considered it a great sequel. Siege and Storm felt like a necessary collection of events that bridged the conflict introduction in the first book and hopefully the satisfying resolution in the third one. I'm now very much looking forward to uncovering what the last installment has to offer while also can't wait for another chance to meet Nikolai Lantsov, so my goal is to finish it before the month changes.

Actual rating: 4.3