This fell a little short of my high expectations, but was still an enjoyable and fun book. The first book contained so much intrigue, mystery, sexiness, and excitement, most of which can be attributed to the Darkling, who unfortunately was away for a large part of this book. The introduction of Sturmhond almost (but not quite) made up for it. His character at least added some complexity and color among plain Alina and boring Mal who both fell flatter in this book. It felt as if they became whiny, shallow, insecure teenagers, who somehow got stuck in a fantasy Russia with super powers that might save the entire world. Gripes with the characters aside, I still want to know how it ends; I still have hopes that the finale will come through with a bang!