Beyond A Darkened Shore
By: Jessica Leake
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Mythology, fantasy, adventure, YA
Synopsis: 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.
The first section of this review will be spoiler free
I received this book in my last Fairyloot book box (they are amazing, I have yet to get a book I didn’t like!) and I really enjoyed it. I assume it is a stand-alone, at least the ending made it seem that way. It was refreshing to read a book that told a whole story, I usually read series but there is something really satisfying about stand-alone novels! This book also incorporated Celtic and Norse Mythology really well, and it was fun to get a peak inside those ancient cultures. Ciara was pretty much as badass as a character can get, she was a princess, a warrior and a powerful sorceress, you can’t get mich cooler than that. The character building and relationships were well written, I quickly got immersed in their world and wanted them to succeed. Some of the plot points were a bit predictable but overall the story had some nice growth and movement. It took me a bit to get into the book with all the Celtic and Norse names, but I loved that the index told me how to pronounce them, which helped me get a handle on it.
If you like adventure stories, magical quests, and unlikely alliances this is the book for you. It combines fantasy and history to create a truly engaging story.
Not surprisingly Ciara and Lief end up falling in love. I do like their whole Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers thing, it’s sweet and romantic and the fact that Ciara visibly struggles with her hatred for northmen and her growing feelings for Lief made the whole thing more believable. The fact that Ciara was the daughter of the goddess of war the Morrigan, was not shocking but nonetheless enjoyable. As if she wasn’t already badass enough with being a princess and a warrior, we can add daughter of an immortal goddess to the list. My favourite twist was probably that Lief’s father was the northman who killed Ciara’s sister. It was a perfect twist to their story and it came just as she was beginning to let go of her hatred towards Lief’s people. I also liked that Ciara didn’t hang on to her anger for too long, she forgave Lief and they moved past it. The fact that this is a stand-alone book meant that any of the twists were resolved pretty fast which was nice for a change.
Have you read this book, what were your thoughts?