Published: June 17, 2014
Number of pages: 432
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Genre: fantasy, mythological creatures, romance, adventure
Verdict: 4 owl hoots out of 5
Alina Starkov, Sun Summoner is on the run from the Darkling with her only friend, Mal. But Alina learns that she can’t outrun her past or her destiny forever. As the Darkling continues to expand his forces after discovering a new power, Alina and Mal must join forces with unlikely allies to stop him from taking over the capital city, Ravka. But Alina is slipping as her power grows and succumbs to forbidden magic until she has to choose from her destiny, her country, and her love. A choice that will define and change her future forever.
I’m impressed with the story as a whole. Leigh Bardugo not only builds up the intensity of the battle between Ravka and the Darkling, but she also gives us in-depth scope of Alina and Mal’s relationship, so I’ll be talking about this in my review as it seems significant to mention.
Alina and Mal escape from the Darkling hoping they can start a new life together. But she realizes that she can’t outrun from her destiny or return to the old Alina she once was. This tortures her and Mal as he can’t stand seeing her as this powerful Sun Summoner and all he wants for them is to have a normal life together. I can relate to Mal’s fears for loosing Alina but sometimes it’s hard for me to sympathize with him when he can be so insensitive to her, especially during the most difficult times were she needs him the most.
Often Mal pushes her away on purpose, which is really unfair as she’s trying to keep everything together. From her powers and her relationship with Mal, while saving Ravka from the Darkling. Clearly it’s not easy being a Sun Summoner, an army leader, and a saint being worshipped by zealots at the same time. And even though Mal says he understands what she’s going through, often I think he’s putting his needs first before her’s. I mean, give the girl a break! Can’t he see that she’s doing everything she can to make everyone safe and happy? *calms down, takes a deep breath, and continues writing*
Aside from the complicated relationship between Alina and Mal, I loved the fast-pace ending of the story where we finally meet the Darkling in a one-on-one battle at the capital. There were so many things going on at once, including the creepy nichevo’ya, Alina’s secret weapon, and chaos erupting everywhere until one of them admits defeat. At this point, I couldn’t stop reading as the story kept me rooted to the spot and I was so shocked as to how the sequel ended. With everything left hanging on the balance, including Ravka, Alina and Mal’s friendship, this story had me on the edge with a chilling cliffhanger and an oncoming storm signalling the finale of the trilogy.
Now I’m just itching to read Ruin & Rising!