My Thoughts On: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Posted March 7, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 14 Comments

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Publish Date: June 4, 2013

448 Pages
Source: Publisher

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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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. -(from Goodreads) 


*I have tried to keep this spoiler-free for the series other than
what is included in the summaries! Be warned, though. 
This is the second book in a series.* 

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo 

My Thoughts:  It hasn’t been long at all since I finished Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, since it took my fantasy-loving life by storm. I know Siege and Storm isn’t scheduled for release until later this year, but I can’t sit on my thoughts any longer. I need to shout to the world that Leigh Bardugo has elevated herself to instant-read status with these two incredible installments of The Grisha Trilogy

The first thing you need to know is this:
I practically devoured Shadow and Bone. I loved it. 
I did the same thing with Siege and Storm.    
At the end of Shadow and Bone, I felt like I needed to take some time to catch my breath because WOW that ending, ya know? (If you haven’t read it, you really should. Seriously.) I loved the way the book ended and felt like if I could just catch my breath for a while, then the characters could too. Bardugo left us with some peace and hope, a healthy dose of happiness, and a lot of I-wonder-what’s-up-with-__________. THAT is my favorite way to end a book – feeling content to take a few days off, knowing that the characters are okay for a while without needing me to read them through whatever trials or tribulations are written the page.

After taking a few days off, picking up Siege and Storm felt like I was throwing a party for two – for me and the book. I was captivated me from page one and I could barely put it down to do real-life things – I wanted to stay in the Grisha world and find out WHAT WHAT WHAT will happen next to everyone. See, I had learned while reading Shadow and Bone that Bardugo is the queen of well-placed twists and turns, and they’re just waiting to leap off of the next page and jazz-up the story. I felt like I was just waiting, holding my breath, smiling with anticipation on practically every page because I knew that something was brewing on the horizon for these characters. At times when something big would happen, I would hear myself laugh out loud, much like a toddler being tickled. I simply cannot get enough of the way Leigh Bardugo tells her story. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
Don’t expect the characters to be quite the same this time around. 

I loved what Leigh Bardugo did with Alina and Mal and their relationship in Shadow and Bone. I loved their dynamic, their friendship-and-maybe-more, and the realities of having a male best friend. These same complexities from real life flowed over so well into this fantasy world, and I felt very connected to this couple. And good grief – THEY WENT THROUGH THE RINGER, right? Phew! Let’s not forget The Darkling and his crazy self, adding chaos and darkness to everything, including their relationship. Sure, the dude is a great character but he kinda complicates things for everyone, no? (This is one of the things I like about The Darkling and it admittedly makes me feel very conflicted, and therefore very bookishly stressed. I kind of love it. I digress.) 

BUT WAIT, I mentioned that everyone is different this time around, that nowhere is that more evident than with Alina’s character. Poor Alina feels the weight of the world on her shoulders – she’s got all of this summoning power that she could be using for good, but isn’t at the moment. She feels some big-time guilty feelings with regard to Mal and everything he’s been through for her PLUS she has no idea WHAT her feelings are for The Darkling – hate? distrust? admiration? a desire to combine forces? Heck, I don’t know what MY feelings are for The Darkling either. Even though Alina starts out this book a different character, this didn’t make me like her less – it just made me feel for her situation and it made her feel more complex. I felt like I was encouraging her along in everything she was doing, and she was doing a lot. But she also felt more multi-layered this time around. I like Alina. 

And Mal. Mal is having some issues of his own. Mal has had a tough go of it, and UNDERSTANDABLY SO (if you’ve read the first book). Still, Mal remains a wonderful character in my opinion and I love him for Alina. I felt for him. I also hope for him. And I adore him. Every aspect of their relationship was under trial in this book and that was hard for me to witness because I am such a fan of these two. Everything that happened felt like it was beginning to wear them down. But ultimately, theirs is the only friendship/relationship that seems real in this book, so it is the one that I trust the most. 

The third thing you need to know is this:

The new guys and The Darkling steal the show?  
Move over everybody else in the book, there are some new characters on the True Sea – meet Sturmhond and his crew because they are INCREDIBLE! Sturmhond is a crafty and smart privateer (not pirate!) that rescues Alina and Mal from the clutches of The Darkling – he tosses them aboard his boat and then takes them back to…Ravka? Yep. He has his reasons! Sturmhond is SO GOSH DARN likable, so very much so, that I wanted to reach thru the book, pull him out, and befriend him in my real life. The more I got to know him, the more I liked him. The more little secrets he revealed here and there, the better he made the story. Sturmhond is full of secrets, and they both enrich and complicate things. At one point, there was a big Sturmhond reveal and my mouth sort of dropped open. LOVE LOVE LOVE the details about this character and his crew, how Sturmhond fits into the story, and how he finishes the story. I am ridiculously eager to find out more about this guy because WOW he is such a great character. 

Also stealing the show, we have The Darkling. Okay, so this guy is just WOW. He’s evil and dark, but he’s also smooth-talking and kinda sexy. There are times when I despise him and want to slap him, but there are times when I want to keep him in the scene a little longer because I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HIM PLEASE. He is such an incredibly interesting villain to me – not only because he’s BAD – but because I constantly want to know more about him but the information is just out of my reach. I only know just enough to get me though the next part of the story, and that is how it has felt through both books in this series so far. I think this is kind of a brilliant way to write The Darkling’s character because it makes him feel mysterious  in a truly mysterious way (not a broody contemporary YA male way). He’s The Darkling. THE DARKLING! – that name sounds creepy and mysterious just in and of itself, right? And his wily ways in this book are whacked out and crazy, a little creepy, and downright odd. I have no idea what is in his head and I can’t figure out his motivations. I can’t wait to find out WHAT IS HIS DEAL in the last book. I’ve been asking that question now for two books in this series, but I am not annoyed at all by his mystique. I’m actually quite fascinated by it. 

I love Alina and Mal, I really do. They are fantastic and wonderful. But I also love Sturmhond and The Darkling. I’m a fan of the whole brilliant cast. 


After falling head-over-heels in love with Shadow and Bone a few weeks ago, I am not surprised at all that I am head-over-heels in love with the second book in the series, Siege and Storm. It is a sound and solid follow-up effort, and it places Leigh Bardugo on my list of instant-read authors.

I still marvel at the world that Leigh Bardugo has created. Once again, I am completely thrust into the Russian culture, the world of the Grisha as well as the Russian royalty and commoners. The fact that I am able to visualize this book so easily is astounding to me since I have very little knowledge of this culture outside of this very series. I loved the vivid descriptions of the True Sea, the landscape, and the Little Palace most of all.

Bardugo’s characterization is equally as stellar. I love Alina and Mal, and how very real they feel to me. I love it when they are happy with one another and I love it when they have fights or disagreements with one another because these situations feel very real. I love it when they feel hope and when they feel despair, because they feel these things deeply and earnestly. I love when Alina and Mal have scenes together – they are one of my favorite duos in YA fantasy because of their long-term friendship that began in an orphanage and their ability to make it through the thicks and thins of life. I love that they stand by one another and have an affection that runs deep. They are really well written from a friendship-standpoint, and I love this about them as it seeps outward into their other relationships (professional, romantic, etc.) at various points in this series. 

I love how Alina interacts with other people in the story as well. I love how she has embraced the role of Grisha. She understands what it means to be the Sun Summoner and while she doesn’t always want that responsibility, she tries to embrace it, even when it means delegating and enforcing. It is fun to be a reader and privy to the Alina that others see – the very public Alina – who is strong and a voice and symbol for the people, as well as the real, private Alina – the one that reveals herself to no one. This Alina is exhausted, weak, guilt-ridden, unsure of herself, and harbors a wide range of emotions that seem to change on a whim. There is also an interesting, almost-supernatural connection that Alina has to The Darkling, and it is creepy and sometimes heartbreaking to read, because I can see it freaking her out and tearing her down. But hooray for gumption, courage, and strength, as Alina has been known to dig deep and find just enough when it is needed…

I’ve already sung the praises of Sturmhond and The Darkling as wonderful characters, and I’ll just echo that here. Sturmhond took what is a great story and made it even better. I can’t imagine what he will be up to in the next part of the series but I am itching to find out. His addition was a treat for me. I still consider The Darkling to be the wild card of this series, as many of you probably do/will, and I’m sure he has a ton of tricks up his sleeve. He surprised me throughout this book just like he did in the first one. I expect no less from him in the final book. But I’m expecting big things from Alina, too, and Mal, and the rest of the characters. If this book is any indicator for this series, the final book will be the best of all. 

In addition to world-building and characterization, I love the Russian lore that weaves in and out of the story. I love how the word “marry” gets thrown around by one or two of the characters. I love the idea that Alina can never fully realize her Grisha power if she continues to cling to Mal, who is merely a human – she is torn between these two worlds, and this adds to the emotional breakdown she feels throughout this book. I love that a large portion of this story takes place on the sea. I love that Alina gets confused time and again by recurrent ‘visions’ she is having, to the point that she literally cannot tell if they are real or not real. I love the sibling relationship between Prince Nikolai and Prince Visolay, and how it just does not work because Visolay is just an icky, icky guy. I love the secondary character David, the Grisha, because we see more of him in this book, and because I now understand him better and he is so, so great. I hope to see still more of him in the final book. I could list a bazillion things I love. 

Once again, at the end of this Grisha book, after the craziness has gone down, I’m left with a feeling of contentment at the ending. I like that I will be able to catch my breath, along with the characters, before everything likely comes unglued and the end goes haywire in the final installment. I almost feel like I need this year in-between books to rest up for what is sure to be a true Leigh-Bardugo-twist-and-turn-fest. I honestly can’t wait. I’m already anticipating the final book in this trilogy, Ruin and Rising

I recommend Siege and Storm for fans of YA fantasy with magic, adventure on the high sea, and mysterious dark characters. I recommend that you read Shadow and Bone if you haven’t and HURRY because you’re missing out! 


Siege and Storm will appeal to fans of:

YA Fantasy with Magic
Romance: Questionable triangle, everyone has 
differing opinions!
Fantastic Characterization
Great Setting
Russian mythology/lore

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
will be available for purchase June 4, 2013.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. Thank you Henry Holt and Co./Macmillan! 

Have you read SHADOW AND BONE yet?
Is SIEGE AND STORM on your wish-list?


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


14 responses to “My Thoughts On: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Wow, what an excellent review! You have somehow gotten me even more excited to read this. I'm glad to hear that even though the characters change a bit, they are still likable all the same.

    • I'm glad you're excited about this one, Becca – it's a great book. No sophomore slump in this series AT ALL, in my opinion!

      These characters do go through some changes, but they are still just as awesome and compelling and fun to read PLUS with the addition of the new members of the cast I think the characterization is just top-notch. I can't think of enough great things to say about both of this series so far and I can't wait to see what tricks this author has up her sleeve for the last book.

  2. WOW. What an epic review! Well, I just completely and totally agree with EVERY last thing you said. Love Alina's growth. Love Mal and Alina's deep connection. Love the new people, STURMHOND (and he TOTALLY is a pirate, God love him) and The Darkling. That charismatic, makes-me-want-to-throttle-him-and- kiss-him-at-the-same-time, enigma of a character. I love the quest aspect of the story, and the fabulous setting and language.

    This is such a solid sophomore effort and such an incredible series. SO excited to see what happen sin the final book!

    Fabulous review, Ash!

    • WOW Thank you Heather! That means so much coming from you!

      Alina was something else, wasn't she? At times she just BROKE me, with all of her secret thoughts and feelings but at the same time, the public appearance and strength she showed was pretty spectacular too. She had so many layers to her personality and character, I couldn't help but be impressed. God I love Sturmhond – I can't see how anybody won't fall madly in love with that character. Part of me wants to say MAN I WISH HE'D HAVE BEEN IN THE FIRST BOOK SO WE'D HAVE MORE OF HIM! but part of me is like HE CAME AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME. But I'm equally excited for what he may bring to the table in the finale because I HAVE NO IDEA what that could be. No clue. Leigh Bardugo doesn't even give us a glimpse! And honestly, I love that – the unknowns about this series.

      The Darkling – just wow. I remember seeing him on one of your Bad Boys posts and thinking that I needed to hurry and start this series because you and Lauren both talked about him like he was such an awesome character but I didn't really know anything about him. You are so right, though. He is intriguing, dark, kinda scary but also sexy. I don't know enough, need to know more – and again, I have NO CLUE what will end up happening with this guy. I love this so much. Wild card for sure. I'm growing to love these wild card players more and more lately.

      On the one hand, I can't believe I waited so long to read this series, but on the other hand, going straight from one book to the next has been INCREDIBLE. Next year, if I'm so lucky to be able to re-read both before the final book – it'll be SUCH A GOOD TIME. I can't wait to read your thoughts!

  3. Great review! and I AGREE. We are all on the same page here. The author continues to include awesome twists that do not see coming. I love that you said that Alina and Mal are "the only friendship/relationship that seems real in this book." He is the only person who has cared about her for her entire life, before she gained her powers. I wish happy things for them in the future, but it won't be easy. Sturmhond definitely is the scene stealer – I think I put that phrase in my review as well. He just jumps off the page. But the Darkling. How does he continue to be sexy despite his evilness? What an amazing series!

    • I completely agree with you that it won't be easy for Alina and Mal – I think I felt that from the beginning but didn't want to face it.

      I don't know HOW she writes The Darkling so well. Perhaps she has an example in mind that she thinks of when she writes? I don't know but he really *does* leap off of the page and come to life in so many ways. I can see why you and Heather liked him so much before I started the series. Mal is my favorite in terms of a love interest, but he is a unique and compelling character for sure and I don't count ANYTHING out as far as he is concerned. I'm so glad you gave me a nudge to read this one and I'm actually really excited about the finale for this one (right now anyway – I'll probably be nervous about it at this time next year).

      One of the things that I love about this series so much is that I can have both my world-building and my characterization too – both are equally wonderful. I don't have to sacrifice one or the other and make do with what I'm given. Having both in high doses makes this series stand out among some others that are really great because Leigh Bardugo is able to balance both elements really well. Not sure that makes any sense at all, but I love it just the same.

      I LOVE IT when we all read a book and love it so much. It's really so much fun.

  4. Amy

    ASHELEY. I couldn't wait to dive into this book BEFORE I read your review, and now I just have to go grab it!! I love reading your reviews, well I love them all the time, but I especially love them when you REALLY LOVE the book you're talking about. You're just about the best, most convincing gusher there is, and you've got me incredibly excited to go back to this world and see what's going on with all the complicated things and feels Alina and Mal are dealing with.
    ALSO. I've been hearing AMAZING things about Sturmhond from everywhere, and now I'm just convinced that I will love him forever. And I'm conflicted about the Darkling, too, and I haven't even read this book yet! I love how Leigh Bardugo makes him so engaging, and makes us question whether or not we ought to dislike him. LOVE THAT.
    Also, love you and this review.

    • I think the world is gonna go nuts over Sturmhond. He's really THAT great but he doesn't overshadow the story, which is really brilliant – Leigh Bardugo is really THAT great of a writer that she can add something so special like a fantastic new character and still maintain the momentum that she had from Shadow and Bone. I KNOW that you will love this one. I KNOW IT.

  5. Ems

    Once again, you've got me even MORE convinced than I was before that this needed to be a preorder. After Shadow and Bone, I decided that Leigh Bardugo was an auto-buy author, and you've totally confirmed my choice. I can't WAIT to get back into this story and find out what happens next!

    Also, I totally can't decide between The Darkling and Mal. Can I love them both? 🙂


    • I CANNOT GET OVER how brilliantly done this series is. Everything about it is just top-notch. I know you'll love it. THIS BOOK is the very definition of a perfect second sequel. No slump here AT ALL, PERIOD.

      You can ABSOLUTELY love them both. Totally!

  6. Jen

    YES. MY GOODNESS, YES. I seriously loved Siege & Storm. I devoured it in one sitting. And how right you are about Sturmhond stealing the show! <3 I didn't think I could love anyone more than the Darkling, but this guy gives him some competition.

    • I know, right? I can't wait to see what Sturmhond is up to next! I feel like he's just out there DOING THINGS right now while we have to wait until the next book because he's so sneaky and wily and cool like that. Leigh Bardugo is pretty dang alright in my book. Hats off to her for her skills. I can't even believe how good these two books have been.

  7. I'm pretty psyched to read this book! It sounds like a solid second installment to the series, and because I enjoyed Shadow & Bone, I'm pretty sure I'm going to like this one as well. GAH, CANNOT WAIT.

  8. SERIOUSLY. There was a dragon, Ash! A DRAGON!

    Also this: "I've already sung the praises of Sturmhond and The Darkling as wonderful characters, and I'll just echo that here"

    I WILL AS WELL because seriously I am so team Darkling or Sturmhond it's not even funny. I can't even say I'm team Mal at all anymore. Bah!

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