My feelings are a tangled mess. Siege and Storm is one of those books that you love one minute and want to walk away from the next. While I applaud the addition of certain new characters in this book, such as Sturmhond, I also felt immensely frustrated with the lack of development among the core set of characters we met in book one of this series. The Darkling is afforded about the same amount of page space that Mal had in Shadow and Bone, which is to say a whole lot of nothing. I don't think his absence bothered me as much as it will other readers.
However, I still missed him.
The few moments we see him, he behaves as if he is beyond redemption and it seems his motives are pure evil. This isn't a charming, sexy, confident man to swoon over. He's just downright scary and, unfortunately, a little bit creepy.Then there's Alina, whose development is inconsistent. She demonstrates in one scene that she is a strong woman learning to trust her instincts and becoming more confident in how she uses her grisha abilities, but then she regresses back to the "old Alina" that laments over her lack of beauty and dissolves into tears whenever Mal has a temper tantrum because he's a jealous asshole that doesn't always have Alina's full attention. It's not like I'm expecting a major overnight transformation, but I would think Alina could move past some of these insecurities by now, especially since she has a kingdom to worry about saving. She essentially believes she is an ugly duckling trapped in a sea of magnificent swans. This attitude is getting tiresome.
Dearest Alina, let's move forward to more important matters in the future. Okay? Good.
For a character who constantly refers to herself as plain, Alina certainly has a plethora of attractive and powerful suitors to choose from. Frankly, I hope she chooses no one. Alas, I think she still has her eyes set on good ol' (boring) Mal. Mal is a good soldier who has an uncanny ability to track things and he is a pretty boy. What's the appeal? No idea. Mal and Alina are connected through a childhood that is barely described to the reader, so it's hard to understand what Alina sees in him. Mal can apparently charm everyone, but his jealous and possessive behavior is anything but charming.
However, some interesting things do happen between Mal and Alina besides stolen kisses and angry tears. I'm still intrigued on where their relationship is headed, but I secretly hope Alina will join forces with the Darkling and choose the dark-side....at least for a little bit.