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.
*Warning Extreme Fangirling Ahead.*
*...and perhaps some slight spoilers for Shadow and Bone.*
I will admit that I went into this book with very high hopes. I bought Shadow and Bone when out on a shopping spree with my mother. After begging her to buy it for me (since I’m a poor student and all) I will admit I felt guilty. I had seen this book a million times on my Goodreads to-read shelf and never really felt that drawn to it. I bought it on that day simply for the sake of buying a book. I went home and thought I may as well start reading it straight away. I finished it in one sitting in two and a half hours. I wanted Siege and Storm immediately!! So, impatient as ever, I bought it for my kindle app on my iPad. I couldn’t even wait until the next day to buy the paperback. I finished Siege and Storm within a few hours and went onto Goodreads to find out what the next book was called. I found out what it was called, Ruin and Rising, but I was in for quite a shock. Siege and Storm had only been out for a week or so and I had to wait another year for the next book! Oh the horror of that moment! I have seriously been rejoicing and despairing equally over my choice to impulse-buy Shadow and Bone that faithful day. While I may have had the unbelievable experience of entering Leigh Bardugo’s world and meeting her characters, I now have one of the worst waits I have ever experienced for a book.
Each of the character’s will tug on your heartstrings, make you fall in love with them (Ahem, the Darkling) or, in some cases, both. Some characters you love to hate, others are fabulously lovable and all of them realistically imperfect, especially in the choices they make. Each character has to make a choice in this novel: Alina or the Darkling. There are no evil characters in this (excepting of course the Darkling who has to be redeemed in the last novel. Right? Right?!?!), only characters that have to make a tough decision and are making the best of the situation at hand. Those who you would believe would be on one side are quite commonly on the other. The characters decisions are explainable and believable. They are fully fleshed out characters with their own reasoning.
My favourite character is of course Alina. She is one of the best heroines I have ever read about and she is such a strong female character. But that is another of this series’ strong points: strong female characters. Not one of the females in this story is an archetype of femininity. Each of the characters may start out as such, the bitchy popular girl, the uncommon beauty, the tomboy. But their true characters are shown throughout the course of this series. Alina, the tomboy, is such a pillar of strength in this novel. She takes over as leader of the Grisha in the Darkling’s absence and does a remarkable job for a relatively new member of the Grisha. As much as I adore the Darkling, Alina is what makes this series what it is. She is the rare character that can truly hold a series on her own, regardless of the many romances and political struggles around her.
As you have probably surmised I am firmly in the Darkling camp when it comes to Alinas heart. I truly believe that Leigh Bardugo will redeem him in the final book and explain his actions satisfactorily. He is such a complex character, and though he struggles to gain control over Alinas power I truly believe he cares for her. If Darklina is not a possibility then I would choose Nikolai as my second favourite. I love how brash and confident he is and how he truly cares about the welfare of his people. I will admit that I also loved his and Alinas chemistry.
Under no circumstances should she end up with Mal! For some inexplicable reason I could never take to Mal. Perhaps it is because he is a part of Alinas past while I wish her to strive toward her future as a leader. Or perhaps it is because he took so long to proclaim his feelings towards her. I mean come on; they’ve been friends since they were kids and he waits until she has a million and one other problems before telling her? I mean, really? I would rather she end up alone, an independent leader of the Grisha than live happily ever after with Mal.
I really and truly love this series and the characters in it. The plot is sublime and you are left wanting more after every page read. I haven’t felt this eager to read an unpublished book in a series since I waited for each Harry Potter book to be published. If you haven’t been lucky enough to read this series and think I am over exaggerating then don’t take my word for it. Go to your nearest library or bookstore and get a copy of Shadow and Bone and experience what the fandom is experiencing. I promise you won’t regret it.
Let me know what you thought in the comments below. Did you read the book and like it? If you didn't read the book are you going to read the first in the series Shadow and Bone now?