Siege and Storm: review

May 16, 2013 2013, 5 star books, fantasy, K., leigh bardugo 71

Title: Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Release Date:
June 4, 2013
Henry Holt and Co.
Age Group: YA
Source: ARC provided by the publisher

“The boy and the girl…” 

A beautiful beginning. Simple, intimate, yet with so much promise. I feel like this encapsulates the very vein of the book: a quiet story of the heart framed in blazing adventure.

Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm has been garnering praise, and when you read it, you will understand why. Bardugo is a storyteller. She moves words across the page effortlessly as if they have been her friends all her life. She creates imagery appealing to our senses; builds tension and fervor, panic and wonder. She knows how to express a scene, as though she has planted herself right in the middle of it and shows us exactly where and how to look. She does more than tell us, she makes us understand.

Which is crucial, as this second installment is, in many ways, as much a psychological journey as it is a physical one. It speaks of religion and the blinding influence it spreads to people desperate for something to believe in. It talks of war, a country torn and slowly degrading. We see and relate to the struggle of families and neighbors as they try to survive. We witness heroes rise and cowards fall as the clock strikes and a person must choose where they stand. The battle is not only on the field, because first you must fight to get yourself on the field. We see this in a number of characters. A privateer of questionable virtue yet with undeniable patriotism. A slave girl who defies despite fear and threat. A score of young men and women who understand the cost of war yet are still willing to fight.

Alina’s own battle is just as harrowing. Alina has been tainted by the Darkling. She’s marked. Her light is bound to his darkness. Her struggle is holding on to her good when, at the core, she feels evil, doomed, fated. The question is…can we turn against nature? We see Alina, over and again, choose the right thing, but oh, the Darkling is temptation. The promises oozing from his lips seduce and she is tempted. Worse still, we ourselves are convinced by him.

The Darkling. A complicated man. In my eyes, almost irredeemable. And yet. His intentions are sincere. And yet…

Bardugo makes it just as hard for us to let him go as it is for Alina. And as it is with Mal. The consideration between Mal and Alina is one of the most touching I’ve ever read. As Alina grows closer to reaching her potential as Sun Summoner, her ties with Mal is severed thread by thread. What she needs is the very thing tearing them apart. But they hold on and we hope on because the relationship is healthy and true. And, of course, it’s romantic. [Swoon break]

Alina and the Darkling push and pull. Alina and Mal give and take. Herein lies another of Bardugo’s  talents. These characters and their interactions are colourful and complex. They fail and succeed. They are honorable and sometimes selfish. Each one is instilled with a solid personality; flawed, authentic.

Other high points? The dialogue. High fantasy requires a certain formality in the language but oftentimes they sound saccharine and melodramatic. Never here. Her language flows. It is never awkward and always lovely. Bardugo uses a dictionary of “old words” like skiff and fetter, which I loved. I had to look up a heck of a lot of them but it was worth it. The atmosphere was tangible.

I must end here. If I don’t stop myself now, I never will. Just know that Siege and Storm satisfies and justifies. Real things are at stake, real things are sacrificed. I think this delivers as much as any novel can deliver, whatever that may mean. All I know is that I was floored. My brain rates this a 4.5 because, yes, I am still left with question marks.

But the rest of me? A METEOR SHOWER OF STARS!

This review also appears on Goodreads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

Check back here tomorrow and read our exclusive interview with Leigh Bardugo!

Another opinion:  Wendy’s Siege and Storm review

71 Responses to “Siege and Storm: review”

  1. bforbethany

    CAN I JUST SAY — this really is the best middle book ever. I don’t know how she came up with the pacing but… oh boy. Expectations for Book 3 couldn’t be higher (and I’m confident they’ll be met)!

  2. A Canadian Girl

    Lovely review, K! If I wasn’t dying to read Siege and Storm before, your review would have convinced me to get a copy ASAP to see if I loved it as much as you.

  3. ultralight

    What a profound review. I’m a fan of Wendy on goodreads, and that’s how I found your website but I’m impressed by all of your reviews too, I am so intrigued with this book now, I can’t even tell you! A meteor shower of stars, I know the feeling!!

  4. starryeyedjen

    Gorgeous review! And I agree, this was every bit a mental journey as it was a physical one for the characters. I love how you describe Alina’s relationships, too. I wish I had time to go back and re-read this already. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of time while I wait for the third book, though. :)

  5. Alicia Batista

    You are SO LUCK to have been able to read this early! I just finished Shadow & Bone Yesterday, (Why I WAITED so LONG IS BEYOND ME)
    Amazing review~!

  6. Christina

    Hahaha, my feelings about the Darkling are also full of And yets . . . He’s impossible to dismiss.

    Oooh, I’m totally anti-Alina and Mal though. He’s just not what she needs now. He’s too used to having the spotlight. It’s all about STURMHONDDDDD.

  7. Melliane

    One day I’ll have to try this series, everyone seem to like it! thanks for the great review!

  8. Janita @ Book, Interrupted

    Oh man, I’m so excited for this one!! I feel like I should reread Shadow and Bone first because I read it so long ago! Ugh I HATE book amnesia. That’s what I get for reading too many books (but I’m not sorry at all haha). Great review!

  9. Danielle

    So, I have a copy of ‘Shadow and Bone’ sitting on my bedside table. Just waiting. Waiting to be read.

    And I know I’m going to love it, but I can’t bring myself to read it yet? I think I’m saving it for a special occasion – like pulling my out of a reading stump.

    Your review has me all excited and giddy to crack it open though!

  10. Jojiwoji

    I’ll admit that I was pretty on the fence with Shadow and Bone, however your review has made me excited to read Siege and Storm. Plus, it’s being released near my birthday, so yay! I can ask someone else to get this for me as I have no money!

  11. Alyssa Susanna

    Ugh, you’re killing us! Push and pull, give and take, I’m scared! I don’t really care for the romance in this book, but I believe Alina and Mal will end up together (or Alina and no one). Poor Darkling. *hugs*

    Great review! Can’t wait to read this one :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  12. Ashfa

    Oh great review, makes to really want to pre-oder the book but I’m a beggar currently so maybe later… By the looks of it, this one sounds even better than Shadow and bone. Love the cover to bits!!

    • K.

      Haha, aren’t we all book lovers beggars? Yes, this is better than S&B…and S&B was amazing so just think how brilliant this one is!! Enjoy!

  13. Carina Olsen

    Great review sweetie :D Sigh. I just loved this book too. <3 MAL and ALINA! <3 I love Mal so much :) Their love is so amazing. But sobs. I need book three. I'm so glad that you loved this book :) Thank you for sharing. <3

    • K.

      Mal is my book crush. I’ve had a few but I think I have to be loyal to him out of anyone because well…he’s sexy, okay! I’m glad this helped, Carina :)

  14. Sunny Duvall

    *hyperventilates* THIS SOUNDS AMAZING! I adored Shadow and Bone and haven’t been wanting to be all snatchy hands with whoever has a copy. It just sounds wonderful and I’m glad it didn’t disappoint you! Great review :)

    • K.

      Thanks, Sunny. This was more than I’d hoped. How often do you get a second book that’s actually better than the first and even more, still has potential? Have fun reading :)

  15. Vivien

    So yes, I pretty much expected this book to turn out exactly as you’ve mentioned. The set up was there, and I was confident in the execution. But really, the main thing that caught my eye is that you said the ‘dialogue is a stand out’. (paraphrase) To me, that is beyond epic. I’ve been craving a YA book to have excellent dialogue. Something that won’t make my eyes roll. I cannot wait to get my copy!

    • K.

      I love good dialogue, too, Vivien. There’s nothing worse than awkward conversations because I feel like that’s when writers really show they’re ‘trying’. It just makes me cringe sometimes. But Bardugo’s words are honey!

    • K.

      The only downside to that, Karlee, is that you’ll have many potential witnesses when you start fan-girling because you will, oh you will ;)

  16. Lyric

    Excellent Review!

    I’m just really happy to know that this sequel didn’t disappoint. I’m so excited to learn about how Mal and Alina’s relationship will work out, and if the Darkling will have a change of heart. I’m also eager to meet this Sturmhond. Heard he was a charismatic fella.

    • K.

      I’m deeply invested in Mal and Alina. I see the appeal of the Darkling (most definitely in S&B) and I’m crushing on the privateer (although Wendy has made it aggressively clear that he is claimed) but Mal is it for me, I’m afraid…or for Alina *looks around innocently*

  17. Jehphg

    K, your review is so beutifully written, sometimes i wonder why the three of you don’t try that route you know? Have you ever felt the urge to be a writter? I digress. I read a lot and have many things to say about the books i read but sometimes i feel so inadequate trying to do that, that shows even more when i read one of your reviews, great work as always

    • K.

      Thank you, Jehphg. That’s very flattering. Wendy and Tonya are amazing aren’t they? ;) I do write but only a little and only for myself. Anyway, this was a very hard review because I have so much to say. Sometimes I push it but then I think, readers are not going to read this much! So I edit :( But I hope it was helpful, it’s pretty obvious how I felt about S&S.

  18. Sam

    *marries K’s review*

    Just thinking about this book (and how much I loved it) makes me want to curl up and sob. You express my own feelings here so perfectly! Leigh Bardugo really is a fantastic storyteller. I agree about her use of language. The attention to detail is stunning, and yes, I did make use of the dictionary too, but it was worth it.

    God knows what the final book will do to me. Fantastic review, K!

    • K.

      *blushes* Thank you, Sam. And you should know that I’ve wanted to marry several of your own reviews, too! I cannot wait for the R&R. I hate having to wait for everything good in liiiiiife!

  19. My anxious life

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. I did everything to try to get an ARC and nothing!! :( Guess I will just have to wait a little bit longer to read it!


    • K.

      Oh Angie, I know how you feel! Sometimes I’m absolutely bewildered when some people get arcs of books I didn’t even know arcs had been released for! Well, it isn’t long now.

    • K.

      Were you?! Well, as long as you’re interested, I’m happy to announce that S&S does indeed surpass S&B :) Maybe this one will convince you.

  20. Amanda

    I think this is my favorite review of Siege and Storm. The way you describe the book and how it made you feel is just so beautifully poetic. I am so happy to hear that Bardugo’s writing becomes even better and stronger in the second book. I cannot wait to read this myself!

    • K.

      Thank you, Amanda! I wish I could’ve written a longer review, then I would’ve really shown how much I loved this book. Bardugo is just talent. I’d let her read me to sleep anytime she wanted :)

  21. Lyn Kaye

    I love the dark undertone of this series. I thought the second book was a little stiff, but the message and the characters were wonderful. I am curious where this whole thing is going, and I love the new Hot Guy (I slowly warmed up to him!)

    Love the review.

    • K.

      I agree with you, Lyn, when you say this one was stiff. I think this was so much more dramatic than the last. And I love that we readers really have no idea what to expect. I don’t know where this is going, either, haha! And mmm, yes, I like me some privateer ;)

  22. Karen

    I really need to start this series. I have the first book but for some reason was being stubborn because the title was too close to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
    My mother in law has read this before me! I can’t have that lol

    • K.

      Karen, it is NOTHING like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. They’re both great books but very different.

  23. Wendy Darling

    I love that you pointed out her use of language, K–it was beautifully done, all of it. And I’m sad to say that after this book, The Darkling may be irredeemable in my eyes, too! :( Is there hope for him yet? I have mixed feelings about that, whether it’s yes or no.

    Your review, as always, is spectacular.

    • K.

      I wanted to dedicate two paragraphs to the language alone, Wendy. I loved every word. Every word. I think its ok if the Darkling is irredeemable. I love Mal… :D

      Thank you so much, lady darling.

  24. Keertana

    Yes, I agree COMPLETELY. I loved the journey, both physical and psychological, that took place in this book, not to mention the new characters and bittersweet paths the old ones took. I definitely enjoyed this much more than even S&B and cannot WAIT for R&R. It’ll hopefully be the best one yet! ;) Great review, K! :D

    • K.

      Oh Keertana, I would’ve written an essay. This was a hard review because there was so much to say. I thought S&B was really great and this one just improves!

  25. Ellen Chen

    I haven’t read this series yet, mostly because for a while I thought the first book was just someone misspelling Smoke and Bone, but I do have it reserved in the library.

    • K.

      Haha, Ellen! This series is so good I would forgive that mistake. At least you have it reserved and this series will soon gain a new reader.

    • Wendy Darling

      Honestly, Tonya and I had lunch recently and we spent quite some time talking about how inadequate we feel sometimes after reading one of K’s review. She is…phenomenal. <3

    • K.

      Wendy, please. As if you two are not wonderful writers, too. Sometimes I feel like I need to step up because both of your reviews are always so damn profound and fun! Maybe its us pushing each other to be better :) But thank you, humbly.

  26. erin

    Ooooh… thanks for the great review! I just got the first book and I’m so excited to get caught up :)

  27. Tirta Pangestu Putri

    I’ve been having Shadow & Bone on my shelf for a long time and hearing good things about the book but never actually read it. Your review convinced me to start reading the series. Love it, K! I love the tone you’re using when you write your reviews(:

    I Prefer Reading

    • K.

      Thank you so much, Tirta! Now do you promise to start this now? Right now? You must! Awesomeness awaits!

  28. Becca Bee

    I’m so excited for this book! It comes out in a few weeks, I think, and I will be reading it ASAP. Excellent review!

    • K.

      Thanks, Becca! I’ll be getting my hands on this ASAP as well :)

  29. Bonnie R

    I was completely at a loss for what to say about this one, I was too busy fan-girling. :) I loved that this one didn’t disappoint and never even came close to having middle-book syndrome. Cannot wait for the conclusion. Fantastic review!

    • K.

      Oh there is most certainly no second-book syndrome here. I was let down by several follow up books early in the year and this just came along and said Bang! This is how you write a sequel!! :)

  30. Mary @ BookSwarm

    OMG. Your review made me melt! I just got this book from Macmillan and seriously danced around the house. It’s currently a bribe for me when I finish my work. I love that you say it’s both a psychological and physical journey. And then those fantastic characters! Darkling is so close to irredeemable except for that “but”. *sigh* Back to work so I can read it this weekend!! (hopefully!)

    • K.

      I hope you get everything done so you can read already. This is defintely a book to save and savour…its that good! And the Darkling…there may always be a but with him.

  31. Kritika

    This sounds amazing! I have walked by the first book in this series several times at the library, but now I will go check it out.

    • K.

      Oh my Kritika, snatch that copy this instant! Better yet, buy it!! You won’t regret it :)

  32. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I only skimmed this one because I STILL need to read Shadow & bone (I know, I fail right?) But I am so happy that the series is continuing to be awesome. I am definitely curious about the world building because it sounds out of this world.

    • K.

      Jenny, this is truly one of the most satisfying ya series out there right now. I’m glad you skimmed this because reading S&B will be worth it. Enjoy!

  1. Favorite Books of 2013 | The Midnight GardenThe Midnight Garden

    […] Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo — The second book in The Grisha Trilogy. This book both gave me exactly what I wanted and withheld everything I’d been wishing for. Her writing is exceptional and I am breathless in anticipation for the third. Breathless. […]