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.
WHAT I KNEW GOING IN
I had to wait a few weeks after finishing Shadow and Bone to be able to get my hand on a copy of this book but I was so excited when I did. I had some expectations about how the story could go after the last book ended with Alina trying to kill the Darkling and then disappearing with Mal into the unknown after a long trip across the sea, but after reading the back synopsis I wasn’t sure. So I just curled up and started reading.
MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS
This book very quickly takes a turn from where I expected it to go into territory I honestly never saw coming. But looking back some work had been done to foreshadow it. You can already see a vast improvement in Leigh’s writing skills from the previous book to this one. She started off great and just keeps getting better. I quickly realized that she is yet another author where try as I might, I will never quite be able to guess where she is going to take a particular plot thread. And honestly, I love that. It just makes the journey that much more exciting.
WHAT I LOVED
Things were not exactly clean and straightforward in the first book and they get even less so now. I was personally very excited that Alina’s relationship with the Darkling did not take the direction it felt like it was going to in the first novel. It continues to be complicated, of course, given that they are the only two with comparable powers so there is no telling how long either of them will live. But we get to watch Alina fight against the struggle to become more like him while also being drawn to the items she believes will make her as powerful as him if not more so. The way these power sources are woven into the fabric of the world and its history and folklore blew my mind. There is also the matter of the power struggle involved trying to keep Ravka safe from the threat of the Darkling who could invade from a number of directions. Most of the Grisha have fled with him since, technically, he is fighting for them. We get to learn more of his story and see how far he has fallen in his desire to make the world his version of right.
A lot of second books can lose momentum as the story is transitioning towards the endgame, but I personally found this one did a good job of keeping the momentum going. Especially with the explosive ending that had my jaw on the floor.
WHO I RECOMMEND THIS TO
If you are looking for:
- A coming of age story featuring someone who has had to fight for everything
- Well developed characters and realistic dynamics between those characters
- The juxtaposition between those with political power, magical power, and those who have neither
- The impossible choices that come with being the person who is supposed to save everyone
Then this really is the series for you. This book continues with the twists and turns and human complexities in a way that will keep you on the edge of your seat up until the unexpected ending.