FICTION

Siege and Storm

Bk. 2. 448p. (The Grisha Trilogy). illus. Holt. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9460-2. ebook available.
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Gr 8 Up—After narrowly escaping the Darkling at the end of Shadow and Bone (Holt, 2012), Alina and Mal are still on the run. Though many believe her dead, Alina knows he will never stop hunting her, and she is right-it isn't long before the Darkling finds and recaptures both Alina and Mal. Forced onto a boat, the imprisoned couple has little choice but to do as he commands: track a second amplifier so that he can use Alina's twice-amplified powers against Ravka. With the help of a pirate with questionable motives, Alina and Mal escape and seek a third amplifier that Alina hopes will give her the strength to combat the Darkling's increasingly evil power and influence before his dark power becomes unstoppable. As with Shadow and Bone, this is a dark fantasy best for patient readers: Bardugo takes her time developing the plot and keeping readers guessing. World-building and character development are top-notch, and relationships and motives are complex; Alina hungers for more power just as much as the Darkling does. Those who haven't read the previous novel recently may want to brush up as there is little rehashing of its plot. An action-packed, heartbreaking ending will leave teens breathless for the final installment.—Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX
In this sequel to Shadow and Bone (rev. 7/12), love interests Alina and Mal are running from the Darkling, an evil Grisha (mage) who wants Alina's sun-summoning ability for his own use. Once he captures them, he ships them back to Ravka on a whaler commanded by the privateer Sturmhond, who then engineers a revolt mid-voyage and spirits Alina and Mal away. Sturmhond is secretly Prince Nikolai, second in line for the throne of Ravka; his ne'er-do-well older brother "cares more about horses and his next drink of whiskey than his people," so Nikolai wants the Sun Summoner to help solidify his claim to the throne. In exchange for helping Nikolai, Alina asks for command of the Grisha army to shore up their defense against the Darkling, but will Alina's star rise only to see her relationship with Mal crumble? Bardugo builds on strengths she brought to the first volume, including a richly crafted fantasy world with its own twist on magic, a surfeit of handsome leading men, and plenty of teen-appropriate romantic angst. The Darkling's attack at the climax tears apart everything the characters have worked for and sets up the third volume in the trilogy. In the meantime, the tension Bardugo sets up between Alina's conflicting desires for power and for love is thoughtfully wrought -- and creates an engaging wish-fulfillment fantasy for teens who would be glad to have either. anita l. burkam

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