The book takes up pretty much where book 1 left off but there's no dawdling around plotwise. Mal and Alina are thrown back into the action when the Darkling reappears. No one REALLY thought he died in book 1, did they? Apologies for the spoiler if they did. Then it's on. A race to the truth, to raise armies - light versus dark - and poor Alina has to question her role in the whole thing. Is she really an instrument of evil or an instrument of good? And in either case, can she and Mal ever find a way to be together or are their destinies simply on separate courses? I tore through this book in two days and would have finished it in one if my kids hadn't completely tired me out last night so I was amazingly too tired to read in bed.
Highly recommend this book, particularly to anyone who felt lukewarm about the first book. This book steps up the stakes, the characters, and the action in leaps and bounds.