Author: Leigh Bardugo
Provided Synopsis: 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.
Review: When the readers last saw Alina and Mal they had escaped from the Shadow Fold to become fugitives. Sooner than they would have liked, however, they are drawn back to their country to take a part in the war. As the Sun Summoner, Alina is now considered to be a saint by the people, which places her in a status as high as the Darkling. The people will follow her because she gives them hope of salvation, yet they do not understand the turmoil that rages inside of her. Throughout the book we are told that “like calls to like,” meaning that as Alina acquires more power she becomes more like the Darkling. There is darkness inside of her that continues to grow, placing her at odds with those she once trusted and giving her visions of the man that she thought she had left behind.
Now that the preparation for war has taken precedence there are new characters to add to the old ones the reader already knows. But my problem with this story was the familiar characters. The Darkling had very little development and the secrets behind him continue to run paramount. Mal has lost so much of the luster he had within the first book. And Alina is so confused about who she is and what to do that it was difficult for me to relate to her as much as I once had. Gone is the fun, magic, mystery, and sexual tension that made Shadow and Bone such a stand out novel. Now that the country of Ravka is on the verge of a war everything is so bleak, including the characters.
I can only hope that the final book of the trilogy, Ruin and Rising, allows the characters to shine like I know they can. Leigh Bardugo is a great writer that has created such a fascinating world. As an author she is a master of plot creation and the mythology behind her world. The only thing she needs now is to get her characters to make that vision truly come alive again. Once she accomplishes that you will probably see me fainting with excitement in the next review.