What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
My sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads introduced me to this series and it was a last minute addition to Chrissi Cupboard Month back in June as I enjoyed the first one so much earlier in the month. When we catch up with our main character Alina, she is on the run with Mal desperately trying to evade the clutches of the mysterious Darkling by trying to remain in disguise and under cover as much as possible. However, things don’t go exactly to plan and worse of all the Darkling has returned with a new ancient and highly destructive power which allows him to create shadow creatures that become his dark warriors. They are a considerable threat to Alina’s new power (which is also making her slightly power hungry) and she can see no choice but to find another amplifier so that she may have a real chance of defeating the Darkling.
Enter stage right the next intriguing character, Sturmhond who captains the ship sent to retrieve Alina and Mal and bring them to the Darkling. Sturmhond however doesn’t really take to being ordered around and has his own hidden agenda. Please note, he is definitely not what he seems in more ways than one. I absolutely loved this character and thought it was a solid addition to our line-up. But guess what? Mal is not as enamoured by him as others and it is not for the first time that Alina and Mal’s relationship may be teetering on the brink of failing. I didn’t get on too well with “jealous” Mal in this sequel, although it is obvious that a lot of barriers are put in their way that may be too strong to overcome. This is especially true when Alina is put in command of the Grisha soldiers that are on the “good” side, widening the gap between them further still as Mal is drafted into a more lowly position.
Alina is fully committed to saving her country Ravka against the evil forces of the Darkling, perhaps in part due to the responsibility she feels for a number of deaths in the Shadow Fold previously. The worry is that she will not be able to find and exploit the Darkling’s weak spot and to make things slightly hairier she is having vivid dreams where the Darkling is appearing to her, almost if he was controlling her mind. She feels she cannot confide in Mal about this and this only serves to widen the gap that is slowly forming between the pair as he becomes more distant and she works on strengthening her powers.
I enjoyed this second offering from Leigh Bardugo as much if not more than the debut, although I must say that Sturmhond really made the story stand out. His wit and banter with Alina is fun to read and he is quick to goad and wind up poor Mal who ends up in a very dark place in this novel. There are a few questions that come out of it as we reach the finale – who can Alina trust? Can she defeat the Darkling? Who is Sturmhond really? And finally, when is Mal going to snap out of it and stop sulking?! Once again, the author creates a beautiful and imaginative world with a strong cast of characters that leave plenty of wiggle room for further development. I loved every moment of it and can’t wait to read the final instalment: Ruin and Rising, although in part I don’t want it to be over so I may stall for a while. Leigh Bardugo is a huge talent that mixes the perfect blend of fantasy and adventure to create a memorable and exciting series.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):