Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Published by Audible, Inc., Henry Holt and Co. on 4 June 2013
Length: 11 hrs and 52 mins
Source: Purchased through Audible
Darkness never dies.
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.
The book description is, thankfully, a bit misleading. This is not an on-the-run plot like I first expected. This story went so many places that I didn’t predict and I don’t want to give anything away. I will say this: We get a bigger view of what is at stake for the Grisha, the common people, and Ravka as a country. Like the first book, I was sucked in from the very beginning and Bardugo pulled the end together in a way that was completely unexpected.
While I don’t want to talk too much about the story, I do want to talk about the characters, because they are what made the story matter to me. Mal and Alina are always going to be the couple I root for in this series. They struggle in this book, but it felt real to me. Each of them wanted something different from the other and they were afraid to talk about their real problems. I think they will be able to move past it. At least, I hope they will be able to move past it. Their relationship is one of the few YA romances that actually show how much work a relationship takes. Too often, it seems that our book OTPs perpetuate the idea that if it is the right person, things will be easy. That’s just not true (or interesting).
After Siege and Storm, The Darkling is no longer in the running for potential love interest. Genya, one of my favorite characters from Shadow and Bone, gets a fate that is worse than death in Book 2. It shows exactly how cruel the Darkling is and has cemented him in my mind as repulsive and vile. He may not be beyond redemption, but Bardugo has her work cut out for her if she wants me to forgive him. I am ready for vengeance.
There are also several new characters in book two and they all added to the story. First, is Sturmhond. To me, he is a mix of Gansey from The Raven Boys and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles, which is to say that he will make you smile and blush and laugh, but also twist your heart just a little. He has a fate bigger than his own desires and this makes him lonely. The other two big characters are Alina’s new guards. There’s something a little off about them, which I guessed early on, but I liked them and hope to see more of them in Book 3, Ruin and Rising. As for everyone else, the Grisha are made up of a lot of strong personalities and there is always someone for Alina to clash with. Again, this book will be better if you go in knowing as little as possible. Things get crazy. Just enjoy it.
Favorite Moments: Any moment with Sturmhond.
WTF Moments: The final showdown with the Darkling. I’d call it sexy, but it’s not. It’s intimate in a way that is reminiscent of sexy, but they are not the same thing. Big showdowns are fun, but this was better.
Narrator: I think the narrator’s performance is superb. I will cry if she does not narrate the third book. Alina is almost never happy and Fortgang is able to capture the melancholy without being whiny.
Overall: A sequel that builds upon the greatness of the first and sets up the anticipation for the third, but packs its own punch.