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.
I read and reviewed Shadow and Bone in 2013. Spoiler: I didn’t like it much, which is why I never bought the sequels. A small part of me, however, was curious how the story would continue so when I got my new library membership, this was the first book I picked up. And what can I say? I’m glad I didn’t invest in the English hardcovers. I just can’t warm up to this series. Maybe I’m a little more critical than I usually would be because I didn’t like the first one. I don’t want to get too much into details here to keep it spoilerfree, but I’ve got a couple of things I want to address:
- The characters I had issues with still haven’t changed much, meaning they’re still annoying.
- Alina’s obsession with Zoya and her beauty drives me mad. Every single time Zoya is mentioned, there’s a referral to her breathtaking appearance. Thanks, I got that the first time it was pointed out! The side effect is that it belittles Alina. They are at war, there are more important things to contemplate and Alina has obtained a certain status. And yet, there’s not really any change in her. She’s still just a pawn letting herself being controlled by others. She hasn’t taken any actions herself, she’s still driven by motives that aren’t truly her own but come from a bigger picture. A little more selfishness would have been nice. But what can I say, it’s Alina after all.
- The new characters were a breath of fresh air and I liked them immensely! Especially Sturmhond – for most parts, because …
- … it is truly alarming how men treat Alina and the way it is handled so casually. One treats her like his property and the other two sexually assault her in that they are kissing her without her consent and against her wishes and despite her struggles to fend them off. In the first case, it’s glorified as romance, in the second as the tantrums of a cunning guy, and the third as hotness. Nope! The whole so-called ‘romantic’ drama is annoying as fuck.
- I wasn’t fond of the plot. I think the first turn came much too soon and abrupt and then the storyline followed the one of the first book: first half quite interesting, second half until the ending not so much. It is interesting that structure-wise, the books share some similarities to The Hunger Games (in a very abstract sense, but in case you’ve read both, you might get my point).
- I found the reverse “Edward and Bella from New Moon” situation quite entertaining. Quite possibly the best parts of this novel.
- It is a shame it ends the way it ends. Otherwise, that would have been the most interesting set up for the final volume! Alas, same old, same old.
- I’m completely and utterly in love with this world. Why, oh why must the story and characters be so mediocre.
- I love that the German translator/editor corrected the Russian names. I always stumbled over them in Shadow and Bone. In case you don’t know (and I’m definitely not an expert, so don’t ask me for the rules, I just know it’s a thing), Russian last names are gendered. So it should be (and was turned into) for example Alina Starkova and Ilya Morozov.