If you haven’t read “Shadow and Bone” yet then, 1. I don’t know why you are reading reviews for “Siege and Storm” and 2. Stop reading this review now because, while I’ll do my best to avoid all the spoilers, inevitably there will be some in here that will pertain to the first book in the trilogy, but not this book in particular. So, if you’ve read the first book, then I welcome you! Come, sit next to me while I tell you my thoughts on this dark YA fantasy. So, book 2 starts pretty much right where the first book left off, with Mal and Alina on the run, trying to find safety in far off shores, away from Ravka, and the Grisha and the Darkling who Alina abandoned to the Fold. But within the first few chapters, the safety Alina thinks she has is shattered, and she’s plunged back to where she was before, struggling to free herself of the Darkling’s physical and mental hold on her, and to save Ravka from the tide of darkness the Darkling will bring with him. But, in order to do that, Alina will need more power, and that makes Mal pout CONSTANTLY. Like, seriously, can we be done with Mal yet?
This book has Jason Bourne vibes all over it: the best “gun for hire” out there suddenly finds himself on the other side of the sniper’s scope. He doesn’t know who put the contract out on him or for what offense—he’s a legend in his field, so the list of people who want our main character dead is pretty long. If Eidolon—also known as John, which, admittedly, is less intimidating—wants to stay alive, he has to figure out who put the contract out on him, and make them remove the hit, and hopefully before the people who have unexpectedly gotten close to him get hurt. This is a killer with some morals, after all. And, ultimately, if you like military action books with a Bourne and a sort of spy vs. spy vibe, then this is going to be a fast paced, fun read for you. But there are some trigger warnings!
I haven’t really read a YA fantasy that is written in an experimental present tense narrative before. It makes “Curses of Scale” read a bit like a dreamscape, or like a stream of consciousness, especially as it’s also a bit of a reverse timeline. Allow me to explain: the main character is Niena, or Squirrel, but we don’t meet her until about 14% into the book. That first part of the book is spent on her future husband as he races toward saving Neina from her destiny, 15 years in the future. Then, we get snapped back to our MC and her grandfather and see that she really just wants to learn how to be a bard. Then a dragon shows up and things go from bad to worse pretty quickly, especially when a meddling fairy brings Neina’s husband to the past. Why the dragon shows up and what it’s after isn’t really clear until just past the 70% mark, unless you go back and read the synopsis. Then you know that Neina is cursed to become the dragon if she kills it, but will lose those she loves if she doesn’t. It’s an interesting premise that is dark and harrowing because of the stakes and all the action that takes place, but is hampered by the narrative style.
I’m not sure how to write this review mainly because I wasn’t expecting to be this conflicted about so many things. “Shadow and Bone” is an engaging read, so let me throw that out there first, how about that? We follow Alina, the painfully stereotypical rags-to-riches redemption story of a girl everyone overlooks, who is unimportant and unremarkable and ugly, until she suddenly becomes one of the most powerful and important people in her war torn country. In a land with serious Russian vibes, and a well-defined magic system for everyone but Alina and the Darkling, Alina holds the key for bringing her country out of the dark (ha) and into the light (ha). Those aren’t exactly metaphors, either. So, yeah, I really liked the book, but you can kind of see where I’m going with my qualms, right?
I find myself reading a lot of fantasy lately that feel like they were taken directly from a dungeon master’s manifest for a Dungeons&Dragons game between friends. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m just not really sure how I ended up reading so many books with that same feel over the course of a relatively short time. But I digress. “Road of the Lost”, you guessed it, is a fantasy sword and sorcery book that follows three characters as they battle against dark elves and their Ogre warriors in an attempt to recover the fabled crystals that will save the forest. You’ve got Templars and Sylvan Elves, and Dark Elves, the Seelie Court, and a bunch of gods all invested in this trio and moving them about like chess pieces from one battle to the next all while the author builds a world for a long standing series. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the primary focus of this first book: build the world and they will come.
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