‘Siege and Storm’ and the sequel curse

Everyone knows about the whole thing with sequels. The “Curse of Book Two,” as some have dubbed it. A popular book becomes a series, and the second book of the series falls flat compared to the first.

Afflicted series often suffer from inconsistent pacing and tone between the first and second books. Leigh Bardugo’s second book of the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy, “Siege and Storm,” is no different. There are good parts — mostly with the new characters — but many fans agree the second book doesn’t hit the same chords as the first.

The book picks up right where the original book ended, with Alina and Mal (I hate him still, so much) on the run to escape the wrath of the aftermath of the Darkling’s final travel through the Fold. The book largely follows Alina as she tries to rebuild the Second Army, which has mostly dissolved due to the events of the first book.  

The plot felt like it didn’t pick up until Nikolai and the twins crashed (literally) into the plot. What can I say about Nikolai? There’s a reason he’s one of the most popular, beloved characters in the Grishaverse — and yes, this includes the spin-off duologies. Tolya and Tamar also helped add some humor and mystery to the sometimes redundant plot with Alina and Mal. 

Still, Nikolai made this book. Everyone’s favorite privateer got his start here. In an effort to help Alina defeat a new threat to Ravka, Nikolai not only captures the heart of the characters, but the audience. His wit and charisma bring so much flair to the story. 

The best addition to the sequel was hands down the new characters. The plot itself had potential — it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t stick with me like the first one’s did. I enjoyed the little scenes with my favorite characters like Nikolai and Genya more than the actual plot of the story.

It was difficult to take Alina seriously as a leader. She goes from this scared girl who barely accepts her powers in the first book to this outspoken, bold poser leader a few chapters into the second. While it’s nice to see her stand up to the elite of the Little Palace who shunned her in the first book, it felt like it came from nowhere. A lot of the plot feels like that — filler. 

I found myself caring more about the characters, waiting for my favorites to show back up. Genya in particular is what I read the book for. The cliffhanger conflict between her and Alina carried over here is what I wanted to read about. Also, that scene with her towards the end still hurts. The book should’ve been about her

Mal is the most annoying character in the series. He’s whiny and rude, and the only relevance he has is holding Alina back the entire book, which doesn’t help the redundancy of “Siege and Storm.” 

Overall, there are bright and dim spots in this book. There isn’t a lot that keeps me intrigued, and it feels more like slogging through it to get to the next book. 

Rating: 3/5