Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake
From Goodreads: The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.
The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn, but the entire world.
Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world.
With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.
So this book came to me in the April Whimsical Journeys box from Fairyloot. I was really interested in the whole Celtic/Norse mythology element in the story, and wondered how in-depth the author would go with the worldbuilding.
As it turns out, it was a pretty awesome book. There’s lots of action, and there were rarely any moments when it felt as though the book was dragging. I did feel like the ending could have wrapped up sooner– the plot is kinda solved but then there’s one extra little thing and I understand why it happened, I just feel like maybe it was a tad unnecessary?
Character-wise, I thought it was strong. Ciara is amazing, and she has a very interesting personality. She’s quite conflicted, and there’s a lot going on which changes her throughout the book, and she’s been through so much that it’s impossible not to like her, or at least feel a bit sorry for her. Also, her magic is just incredible and I loved seeing how that came across in the pages and events of the book. With Leif, I was slightly less interested in him, since he’s more a generic YA hero type, but he was still likeable and I found myself cheering for him throughout the story. I loved the star-crossed element to the novel too, even if it is a bit of a cliché. I thought it worked really well with the book’s plot and world, and allowed for an interesting addition of learning to understand and accept another person’s culture and story, rather than just warring families and covert romance. So kudos on that.
But the best thing about Beyond a Darkened Shore had to be the world-building. The Celtic and Norse mythology were right on-point, and I loved all the specific words and terms that were used to help build the world. All the mythology added a very creepy element to the story, and I shivered a good few times at the Morrigan and other characters. It’s definitely not a book for the faint-hearted, and the violence and creepy factor do dial up beyond a ten, but if you’re fine with quite dark and bloody books, this is definitely one you should check out.
I’m giving Beyond a Darkened Shore an 8/10 stars. I thought it was a really well-developed world and I loved all the mythology and most of the plot, and I enjoyed learning about these characters, but I wasn’t totally in love with all of the plot, and it did take me a while to get into the book at the start.]
Did anyone else get the April Fairyloot? What did you all think of Beyond a Darkened Shore? Leave me a comment if you want to discuss this awesome book 😀