This sequel to Shadow and Bone takes all of the high adventure and dark drama of the first book and cranks it up to 11. The story starts off quietly for a chapter or two and then suddenly kicks the reader into a fast-paced, slam-bang, snarktastic rollercoaster ride that doesn't let up until the end of the novel. And the end...my heart was pounding and I was left breathless by the end of the book.
After the frantic ending of the first book, Siege and Storm opens with Alina and Mal on the run from the Darkling. Alina and Mal are very devoted to each other, but that doesn't stop them from cracking wise with each other, or from having constant insecurities about their futures and their relationship. But their homeland, Ravka, has fallen into civil war, divided between the fanatical Grisha followers of the Darkling and the mundane subjects of the Ravkan king, and even in exile, Alina and Mal can't stop from getting pulled back into the conflict. They meet up with a dashing, young pirate (who reads like a combination of Captain Mal Reynolds from Firefly and Han Solo from Star Wars, and is my favorite character in the series), a pair of butt-kicking warrior twins, and ragged pilgrims who are convinced Alina is a saint who will deliver them from evil. The atmosphere is heavy with the threat of outright war, electric with the tension of intrigue and mysterious magic. All of the characters, young and old, Grisha and mortal, are wracked by petty emotions and insecurities, which snowball into an exciting, horrifying climax that...I refuse to spoil for anyone.
Everything I liked about the first book—the mystery, the intrigue, the tension, the romance, the excitement, the mysticism—is ramped up in Siege and Storm. I cannot wait for the conclusion of the trilogy, Ruin and Rising.