Today’s review is on a book that has been one of my most anticipated releases of the year.
I’ve been looking forward to the release of Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake ever since it first crossed my radar in September of 2017. My reasoning for being so excited stemmed from it being a YA historical standalone inspired by Celtic and Norse mythology.
So, was the wait for Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake worth it? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
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Beyond A Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake
Publisher: HarperTeen (April 10, 2018)
Print Length: 384 pages
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.
Equal parts beautiful and brutal, Beyond a Darkened Shore is an eloquent journey to ancient Ireland, chalk full of gruesome battles, whimsical magic, and a romance that will melt even the most cold of anti-YA romance hearts.
Beyond a Darkened Shore tells the fantastical story of Ciara, Princess of Mide, as she struggles to come to grips with both having a power that controls her enemies but turns her countrymen against her, and ending up befriending one of those enemies, a northman leader named Lief, in favour of her countrymen.
If you like action packed books with an emphasis on Celtic and Norse mythology, then Beyond A Darkened Shore is the book for you. I was a bit nervous going into this book, given that it is a 384 page standalone. And while the first third was a bit slow, mostly because it had to educate me in regards to said mythology, the action completely enthralled me, oh and did I mention that it totally does not shy away from describing the grotesque injuries and weaponry use. My only complaint with the amount of action in the book, however, is that by the time I got to the end of the final battle it was almost fruitless in comparison to the rest of the novel. Especially considering that many, many characters that I had grown to love had perished in the preceding battles there was almost no consequence for the main characters.
Speaking of the main characters, Leake blesses us with two incredibly rich and dynamic characters, Ciara and Leif. Ciara is the daughter of a king, gifted with the unique ability of mind control. Though she only uses her gift against Mide’s enemies, she is still ostracized from her religiously zealous constituents, leading her to make a life altering mistake. She was a fierce warrior capable of holding her own, physically, on the battlefield and I think the story definitely was made better by her defiance in the face of uncertainty. Leif, on the other hand, is just as capable on the battlefield. Initially introduced as the enemy, he grows throughout the novel, understanding that while he loves Ciara he does not need to be the prince in a damsel in distress type situation. In fact, I think the one reason I liked the romance in this story compared to other YA fantasy novels is because both Ciara and Leif have individual personalities that, while initially made for conflict, complimented each other by the end of the novel. Yes, they bickered, but they also admired each others strengths and protective natures, leading to an almost realistic portrayal of young love.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake. Have any YA mythological fantasy recommendations you’d like to share? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.