Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

Title: Beyond a Darkened Shore
Author: Jessica Leake
Genre: Fantasy, Historical
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

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.
Review by Nara

Beyond a Darkened Shore is Jessica Leake's debut novel, and showcases a historical fantasy with elements drawn from Celtic and Norse mythology.

I found that Ciara and Lief were relatively well developed characters with interesting family dynamics surrounding both. We have Ciara, who is feared by her people for her abilities, yet beloved by her younger sisters, and then Lief who is treated as a great leader by his people. I did find that some aspects of the family drama weren't explored quite as well, for example, how Ciara deals with her father towards the end of the novel.

The romance was pretty mediocre. While it did feature the enemies-to-lovers trope that I really like, I felt that the progression of the romance was quite poor, teetering right on the edge of instalove. There was also this scene that I distinctly remember where attempted rape was used as a plot device for the love interest to be shown as protective, which I also very much dislike.

Overall, I thought the novel was average on most fronts- neither particularly impressive nor terrible. I would perhaps recommend it to people who haven't read a lot of fantasy novels.

Liked it
Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Romance: 2/5
Writing: 3/5
World Building: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5