Blurb: 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.
Thoughts: I feel like I’m incapable of reviewing this book because I can’t decide if I loved it or hated it. This installment of the Grisha Trilogy is intense and Bardugo does a wonderful job of developing her fantasy world and characters. There were times when I wanted to strangle Alina and Mal, but that was the intention of the novel, so… in a way I guess I loved it? So much happened, so let’s discuss.
First of all, let’s talk about the love square that’s going on. I’m going to go ahead and say, I am 100% team Nikolai. It’s funny because I even liked him when he was Sturmhond better than Mal or the Darkling. I like him because he’s a fantastic character. He’s supportive of Alina, but still challenges her, he isn’t evil, and he’s freaking hilarious. Now, about the other two boys. Mal was infuriating in this book. I couldn’t stand listening to him complain about everything and watch him spiral out of control. Also, Mal is consistently holding Alina back and not letting her adapt to who she is now, I feel like Alina would’ve adapted to the power of two amplifiers better is Mal wasn’t being such a jerk about it.
Now, the Darkling is evil. Honestly, to me, that’s all that it is. Him and Alina do have chemistry, and yes they do work together well, but like I mentioned in my Shadow and Bone review I don’t know if the Darkling actually loves/likes Alina or not. He just wants to take advantage of her and her power and use it to expand the Fold and take over Ravka. See the evil bit? Yeah, me too.
The plot and pace of this novel was perfection. We started out with Alina and Mal fleeing Os Alta and Ravka and I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting a confrontation with the Darkling for quite a while, but less then 50 pages in and he’s captured Alina and Mal. Everything from there was great because there was plenty of action scenes to keep me intrigued and reading late into the night, but there was also an appropriate amount of development that allowed us to get to know the world and both new and returning characters.
Conflict and angst were two very prominent themes that I came across while reading and they were fleshed out quite well. There was constant conflict between Alina and the Darkling, the Grisha or Mal along with Alina’s own “becoming super powerful and dangerous” angst. Watching Alina struggle to come to terms with her power was fascinating and almost terrifying at times and it created an interesting twist instead of her magically being able to perfectly control her power.
So, overall (before we jump into the super spoil-y bit) this was an action packed second book and leaves me badly wanting to continue on with the series. I honestly have no idea what to expect for the final book because Bardugo sets up so many mini-plot lines that I’m not sure which ones will get resolved and which one won’t. If you still haven’t read this series, I highly recommend picking up the first one and giving it a shot.
This next section will have a ton spoilers. If you haven’t read the novel and don’t want to get spoiled, STOP HERE!
That ending was intense. I literally just finished reading a few hours ago and I’m in slight shock. The minute Vasily’s character was developed, I knew he was going to do something stupid because he’s the jealous brother that wanted the throne for himself so he can feel important. So, good job Vasily you probably killed most of Ravka’s population. I mean, you’re also dead so you don’t care. Can you tell I didn’t like him?
The battle scene was written so well and I could see the entire battle with the nichevo’ya playing out in my head. I loved watching David have his little time to shine and see his character develop. It was so heartbreaking when he found out what happened to Genya, hell it’s heartbreaking what happened to Genya. I hope the next book tells us more of what the Darkling actually did to her. I’m also very curious if the Darkling survived after Alina took his power. I assume he did, but I hope he’s much weaker and became incapable of taking over Ravka. That would be super cool.
Even though I did enjoy reading this book, I did have some problems with it. I was slightly disappointed about how some of the character’s story lines abruptly ended and we don’t get any explanation with what happened to them. I’m sure some of them will be covered in Ruin and Rising, but personally I’m quite curious what happened to Baghra, the King and Queen, Nikolai (because I love him), and Botkin. Were the killed in the attack, or did they make it out? I guess I’ll find out.