Format: ARC (thank you, Harper!)
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.
There will be spoilers in this review.
I had really high hopes for BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE because it seemed like a standalone fantasy reminiscent of THE QUEEN’S RISING, which I loved, but ultimately this book fell a little flat for me.
Let’s start with the positives of this book. I enjoyed the world-building. While I do think that it could be benefited with less focus on the romance and more on the political tensions surrounding the world, I did enjoy what I read. Despite that, I also enjoyed what I got from the politics in this novel – there’s plays on kingdoms fighting over territory and vengeance over past battles, which I enjoyed.
I do have quite a few reservations of this novel however. For instance, while I did appreciate the attempt on politics and world-building, I feel like it could have been improved wildly if the novel didn’t focus on the romance between Ciara and Lief so much. That being said, I didn’t get much chemistry at all between the two – they realized they liked each other about 100 pages in, but I felt like it sort of came out of nowhere. The two main characters, who are positions of quite high political power, mind you, are more focused on making out with each other and less on the intense magic system and political tensions.
I also didn’t really like Ciara or Lief as main characters. Ciara is a bit dense – there’s one part in this novel where her mother turns out to not be her mother and she’s shocked to the very core, despite having received quite a few hints about the lack of blood relation with the queen. Lief is also not very bright – when the Morrigan is revealed to be Ciara’s mother, he says that he knew they shared blood but not that she was her mother. He literally knew they shared blood but couldn’t fathom a reason as to how or in what way. Speaking of family, the novel features Ciara’s sisters intermittently, but there is no real emotional connection that I felt between the family members, nor was there a solid structure of how the kingdom fared when Ciara was gone for literally weeks. Additionally, I feel like Ciara’s and Lief’s powers could have been expanded on so much, but they just used them so minimally that it felt like a waste of the magic system.
Overall, BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE was a bit of a disappointment to me. There were just so many little things that annoyed me that built up to a unexciting and seemingly perfect finish. Perhaps this novel could be improved with better world-building and a magic system and less on the bland romance between two dense main characters. I might check out this author’s other works in the future, but I can’t seem to recommend this one.
Thank you to Harper for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Alice is an 18 year old college student who loves the oxford comma, television shows, and the company of dogs. She finds writing in the third person odd yet enjoyable. You can find her scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and forever organizing her shelves on Goodreads.