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.
So this book picks up with Mal and Alina living on the run and I thought that it would be a little slow at the beginning because of it. But the Darkling shows up almost immediately. I have to say I’m really glad that it’s pointed out that they were not really that smart about hiding their tracks. I mean, obviously these kids have never had to hide before so it makes sense that they wouldn’t really know how and that they would be caught very soon.
Nikolai is literally the best. He’s honestly just so refreshing. Everything is always so doom and gloom (don’t get me wrong, I love it, please give me all the angsty, gloomy stories always) and just by virtue of being himself, Nikolai brings light to the whole story without detracting from it. I love that Alina is building relationships with him, and Tolya and Tamar, and just people other than Mal or the Darkling. Having an actual support system is A+++.
It’s interesting to see how Alina is struggling with her power. And not just her power but also herself. Like calls to like, as everyone keeps saying throughout the books. She and the Darkling are so similar. The biggest difference is in their choices. While the Darkling chose to embrace his own darkness (obviously, I mean, the man gave up his name to be the Darkling, how emo can you be), Alina, though, struggles with embracing her darkness and I’m reminded of one of my favorite Harry Potter quotes.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Alina’s choices are the things that set her apart so definitively from the Darkling. No matter the pull she feels towards him, she chooses to embrace the light and embrace the people that care about her.
“Does the bird feel the weight of its wings?”
Bardugo always has the amazing ability to make one line stick out to me the most in every one of her books. The thing that sets you free is not always easy. Every choice Alina makes weighs heavily on her. Like all “chosen ones” in YA fiction Alina has literally had the weight of the world thrust upon her and with each new amplifier she gets stronger and more in control, but the weight of the world and her responsibilities also gets heavier.