'Siege And Storm' Is A Fun Return To The Grisha Fantasy World

Seige and StormIt's a testament to the awesomeness of Leigh Bardugo's "Siege and Storm"—and its world full of Slavic folklore, forbidden romance and supernatural summoners of all things elemental—that on this 90-degree sweatswamp of a day, we want nothing more than to put on a floor-length kefta with embroidered fur cuffs and go tromping around in search of mayhem. The second novel in the much-adored "Grisha" series, this followup to the bestselling "Shadow and Bone" finds us once again in the company of one Alina Starkov, a girl whose brush with death in the first book led to her uncovering a talent beyond her wildest dreams.

When we left off, Alina had come into her own as the Sun Summoner—a unique, powerful grisha whose talents are coveted by many, but none moreso than the evil, seductive, ancient Darkling. And while she and her longtime friend Mal have escaped the kingdom and gone on the run, this is a trilogy, which means that her quest isn't even close to over...nor is the threat that the Darkling poses if she falls into his hands. Oooooooooh.

Although it's not quite as compelling and exciting as the first book—a second visit to Ravka exposes a certain lack of depth in the world building, and the romantic drama is ever-so-slightly hackneyed this time around—"Siege and Storm" still has all of the elements that made "Shadow and Bone" such a hit: a feisty heroine, complex characters and a light fantasy flavor that's just otherworldly enough without requiring a full set of dedicated reference materials to keep track of the who, what, and where. (We love you, George R. R. Martin, but sometimes you go a little nuts.) And with Alina coming into her own as a grisha, it's exciting to watch her begin to grapple with the questions of identity, responsibility and destiny that accompany her incredible power—especially when there's an epic conclusion still to look forward to in book number three.

"Siege and Storm" hits bookstores June 4.

Is "Siege and Storm" on your to-read list?