Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm - (As reviewed on my blog, Paper Riot.)Let me just get it out of the way: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Warning: endless fangirling ahead. If you have read my review of Shadow and Bone and have been following me on Twitter, you might know that I was very excited for Siege and Storm. I'm talking immensely, indescribably, insanely excited. Shadow and Bone completely took me by surprise, and the sequel, with it's equally stunning cover, was supposed to be even better. It was only after my pre-ordered copy arrived that I got a little nervous. My expectations had been so high, that it would be so easy to disappoint. Would I still love Alina? Would everything work out with Mal? Would I like this mysterious stranger called Sturmhond? However, I should have trusted my friends and Leigh Bardugo and the rest of the Internet, because you guys. This book was nothing less than phenomenal!The first thing I noticed was that Bardugo's writing has significantly improved - I know, I didn't think it was possible either. In Shadow and Bone I had already discovered that Leigh has a way with words that is almost impeccable, but in Siege and Storm, the writing is even smoother than in its prequel. Not only does the story flow beautifully, but Bardugo made sure that there was never a dull moment, always enough tension to have me at the edge of my seat. Another important aspect of Siege and Storm is the world building. I won't write an entire paragraph about how wonderful the world building in this book is again, but I will say this: it gets even better. The world is more explored (literally) and we find out just how detailed it really is, folk tales, religion and history included.But what really stood out for me in this sequel was the character development. While I liked Alina in Shadow and Bone and was glad to have a bit of normalcy in her, Siege and Storm did her good. She is not the lonely orphan anymore, but she is not the Saint everyone claims she is either. Instead, she is prepared to fight for what's good, while at the same time she struggles with the darkness that haunts her. What I loved was that you could really see Alina's growth in this book, and that she truly holds her own now. Hell, she was a total badass, and I love her. But at the same time, my heart hurt for Alina and Mal, who have a lot of issues. And oh boy, there were a lot of some moments that made me cry. Mal is not the hero of this book, but he still has a special place in my heart, and I hope that Ruin and Rising will be kinder to him.We don't see as much of the Darkling in this book, which slightly disappointed me. He is still a prominent character, but his development is minimal. That is okay though, because there are some new characters to fangirl over, the most important of which is Sturmhond. Oh, I'm sure you've heard all about him by now, even if you haven't read this book/series. Where Shadow and Bone was all about the Darkling, Sturmhond is Siege and Storm's shining star. Charming, clever and sarcastic, this handsome privateer is the newest addition to my exclusive list of book boyfriends. I won't say too much about him, because you'll have to see for yourselves, but trust me when I say that you will love him. LOVE. And if you don't, that is totally okay because that means there's more for me!All in all, Siege and Storm is a spectacular sequel with plenty of action, brilliant characters and an ending that left me speechless. I'm certain that Bardugo gave the ending everything she got to make it as crazy as possible. And crazy it was. I can't think too much about it because then I will start keyboard slamming and I promised myself that I wouldn't do that. Just prepare for complete insanity, and understand that it will take a long time to recover from. If you haven't read this book, I urge you to do it asap. If you haven't read this series, well... this is where my pride ends, and I start begging. Please read this series. Please trust me on this one. I can promise you that you will not be disappointed. I don't think there's a word to describe how Siege and Storm made me feel, but I do know that it's one of my favorite sequels of all time.