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 came into the second book in Leigh Bardugo’s fantastic and magical series with extremely high expectations. It has been a while since I read the first book, Shadow and Bone, but I remember loving it — the entire cast of characters, and the entire world that Bardugo constructed. I was really expecting to love this book as much as the first one, especially since so many people have raved about it on both Goodreads and Instagram, however, I was unfortunately left very disappointed.
I think that the main problem that I have with this particular novel is with the main character: Alina. Throughout the novel, it seems that the author is trying to emphasise that she is ‘special’ and that she is the only hope that an entire continent has. However, I just don’t believe it. The whole time that I was reading this book, I was growing increasingly more annoyed with Alina. If this girl is the only for a whole continent’s survival… well, I feel extremely worried for this continent. Alina spends the majority of the novel complaining, and her on/off again relationship with Mal grows very annoying. Where her concern should be with the growing threat that the continent is facing and leading the Second Army to victory, Alina is almost always concerned with her teenage love life.
When I read books, I have to fall in love with the main character, otherwise I want to put the book down. I love when the characters are strong, captivating and are motivated. Unfortunately, Alina was far from a character that I fell in love with. And, because of that, I was considering leaving this novel as DNF. Yet, I loved the inclusion of a whole new group of characters (all of whom were way more interesting than the main character). I liked how not everyone gets along. There are very obvious divisions between characters, even those that are aligned, and that causes some very interesting character dynamics.
The most spectacular aspect of Bardugo’s novel is the world that she has created. This world made me persevere. I have never seen a world, with such a wonderful and different culture, like this in a book before. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, but it is so well-developed and captivating.
I would definitely recommend this trilogy to any fan of fantasy, regardless. Because if you do not read this, you are missing out on an incredibly written world.