, April 27, 2014
(view all comments by Disquietus)
I do not promise that this post will have anything resembling coherence. I am just so incredibly blown away by this book. Stayed up until 3:30 a.m. finishing it, crying for an hour afterwards, then not being able to fall asleep for another couple of hours because I couldn’t stop thinking about it, blown away. I don’t even know where to start with this review because I have so many feelings to process.
I was so excited to get my hands on Siege and Storm. Excited enough that on the drive home after purchasing it I may or may not have been stroking it and repeatedly cooing “my precious.” And I was not at all disappointed. If this book does not convince you that Leigh Bardugo and the Grisha series are the best thing out there in the YA world, I don’t even know how to talk to you.
The writing remains spectacular. Gorgeous, and evocative, I just want to drown myself in it, and read it again and again. In fact I will probably take it with me on vacation next week and re-read it just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And find all my favorite quotes. The world Leigh has built is so incredible and complex, the relationships, characters, countries. I can’t even wrap my head around her talent, but I can tell you that it is everything a Fantasy book should be.
Alina is my favorite protagonist in the history of all the protagonists. I loved her in the first book, but pages 103 and 232 of this one sealed the deal for me. She is glorious, magnificent and yes, terrifying. She truly comes into herself in this book, embracing her power, her connection with the Darkling, the reality of her relationship with Mal and the fact that she is no longer the scared little orphan girl she was when she first came to the Little Palace, and never will be again. While she is definitely frustrating at times, and still has her moments where she is scared and doubtful, she is all about kicking ass and taking names in this book and her journey was the best part of this book. Her last words in the novel literally gave me chills and I cannot wait to see what she has up her sleeve next.
Siege and Storm also introduced three new characters who I am madly in love with. Sturmhond is everything he was hyped up to be. When I first heard about his character, I had some suspicions about his true identity and I may have let out a little AH HA I KNEW IT when I discovered I was right. Leigh constantly surprises me, so being right about this made me extremely happy. I can’t properly express his charm and wit and how much his presence adds to this series. While I don’t ship him with Alina at all, I can definitely see why the pairing appeals to my fellow readers. The golden-eyed twins, Tamar and Tolya are also new favorites of mine. I enjoyed them immensely.
I should probably talk about Mal too. I’m so conflicted by him. While I don’t love him as much as my other book blogging friends do, I don’t dislike him at all. I’m not sure why he seems to be getting so much hate in other reviews I’ve read of this book. Yes, some of his actions are definitely frustrating, but I just couldn’t be mad at him over them because I empathize with him. He’s loved Alina his entire life, even when he didn’t realize it, and he isn’t quite ready to accept that she is no longer that same girl. It’s hard not to swoon at that kind of love. At the same time I do find the whole concept of your first love being your only possible true love to be incredibly boring, which is why I couldn’t sell myself on the idea of Mal/Alina, even though I tried. I appreciate their relationship and the love they share but I don’t think it’s sustainable because they are not the same people they were before Alina discovered her power, and people outgrow each other. It’s a fact of life.
Honestly I don’t even know how I feel about the so-called “love triangle” of this series. Part of this is because while the romantic relationships are important aspects of the series, they are by no means its driving force. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Alina ended up alone at the end of everything, so I don’t want to get myself invested in any pairing, but despite my best efforts my heart still aches and yearns for the Darkling/Alina. If my feelings hadn’t already been sealed on this in the first book, and survived despite his truly horrific actions toward her, pages 418-419 and two particular lines: “I’ve seen what you truly are and I’ve never turned away. I never will.” and the “And he was my monster, too” line would have done it. The Darkling and Alina are connected, through their powers and because, at least in my probably slighltly deluded mind, their souls are made of the same stuff. They need each other in the elemental way the darkness and light have always needed each other throughout time. One cannot survive without the other. Of course I could be reading way too much into it all. Just let me have my delusions.
Naturally, I saved my discussion of the Darkling for last because he is the dearest to my heart (I’m still sad that I don’t live in the anywhere near Hollywood and couldn’t go to the Siege and Storm release party and get one of the Darkness Never Dies totes) this may take a while. I was anxious going into this book, because I’d heard that he was absence for most of it, but I did not feel that absence at all. While he wasn’t physically present as much as he was in Shadow and Bone, he was seeped into every page of this book, constantly in Alina’s head, which caused me to have a lot of emotions, most of them the exact opposite of everyone else. Every scene with him caused my heart to ache and tears and pulled so much emotion out of me, but it was the scenes on page 238 and again pages 418-419 in particularly destroyed me and left me sobbing like a baby. He causes my heart more conflict than any character, ever. I hated so many of his actions. The way he treated Alina, his new creations, what he did to Baghra, the way he seems to have been completely corrupted to the point of being wholly irredeemable at this point. Most of his actions in this book were horrific. I can’t deny that. One in particular had me wanting to rip his head off out of sheer disappointment, especially after having read the recently released Genya POV piece, The Tailor. But I just do not share the same feelings of terror and creepiness that my fellow readers seemed to have. Maybe it’s because I have never been scared of the dark, maybe it’s because I have a thing for characters who aren’t afraid of themselves or doing what needs to be done, even if the rest of the world thinks it’s obscene, but I finished this book more in love with this character than ever. I may not agree that everything he does is necessary, some of his actions were probably definitely done because he has been utterly corrupted by his desire for power, but I can understand why he does them. Part of that I’m sure has to do with being in Alina’s head while she faces an inner conflict over her power that I suspect, and hope, the Darkling faced before he became what he is now. I could be reading way more into this than is actually there, but I have faith in Leigh and I just can’t believe that the Darkling is only about being creepy and scary and all about being desperate for more power. While I fully expect my love for him to cause my heart to be shattered to pieces in the final book, I can’t deny the fact that if loving him is wrong, I never ever want to be right.
I honestly can’t even think of anything to criticize about this book, other than my constant need for more of the Darkling, but the entire series could be written from his POV and I’d probably be saying the same thing. I know that I will be reading these books again and again while I wait for the final installment.