Book blurb (from goodreads):
Darkness never dies.
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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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.
This book made me SO SAD. But in a good way!
My love for the Darkling still knows no bounds. And I still want to see that spark of something redeemable in him, but I don't know that it's possible anymore. He does some really horrible things in this book, and every time, I did this:
And yet I still want under his kefta. I have issues.
I still adore Alina too. Now, more than ever, she's treading water in the middle of nowhere, hoping she's going in the right direction and will either find land or be saved before she drowns. At times, I understood exactly why she was doing something, and other times, I questioned a lot of her actions and choices. But I think that was the point. She took on much more responsibility than she was ready for or equipped to handle, and it overwhelmed her. It didn't help either that she didn't always have the emotional support of the person from whom she needed it most.
Speaking of Mal, I looooved all the time we got to spend with him in this book. It totally made up for the lack of him in Shadow and Bone. I felt for him and got intensely frustrated with him, and sometimes I just wanted to squish his and Alina's heads together and shout, "NOW KISS AND MAKE UP."
There was so much going on in this book. Preparations to face the Darkling, politics, Alina and Mal, and a whole lot of crazies. Alina again feels like she doesn't belong, but it's in a different way now.
Sturmhond is a new character, and I LOVE him. He's hilarious and charming and clever and a badass in his own right. Also, Toyla and Tamar were cool.
I think my biggest complaint is NEEDS MOAR DARKLING :D (not really a valid complaint)
His new power is freaky and I love it. But it also comes with a lot of questions that weren't answered, mostly in terms of HOW? How did he develop this power exactly? Out of sheer desperate, determination-to-live will power? How does it work and how does it connect him to Alina?
Some aspects of the plot I was able to anticipate (and I did a fist pump when I got it right), and I love how the ending was one big action sequence. When the Darkling finally appeared, it was like OH DAMN, and I found it a little funny BUT ENTIRELY ACCURATE how they would rather go up against his terrifying creatures than face the Darkling himself.
IN ANY CASE. Amazing book. Please read and then come back to commiserate with me about how we have to wait a whole year for the final book.