Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher/Imprint: Tor Teen
Edition: e-ARC, 325 Pages
Hardcover Publication Date: May 07, 2019
A Spine that Shines? Fairly Well
*This review is based on an e-ARC edition received from the publisher via NetGalley. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*
Initial Thoughts, Setting, & World
I finished reading Dark Shores this morning, and I enjoyed many aspects of this book. It was my first time reading anything written by Danielle Jensen. It took me a little while to really get into the story. But once I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Dark Shores is not exactly a pirate story, but there is plenty of action on land and at sea. I love a good, action-packed story!
First of all, I loved the setting and the world! The Empire in this book is inspired by Ancient Rome. I love settings inspired by ancient civilizations. The people of Celendrial are basically like the Romans, with togas, militant legions, tumultuous politics, and a thirst for conquest. One thing I should mention is the slight info-dumping in the beginning of the book. The world can be a lot to absorb at first. But the information seemed important in order for the reader to understand the world, so it didn’t bother me too much.
In this world, there are also meddling gods/goddesses with cool powers. And the author created creepy, zombie-like beings that will suck the life out of their victims through touch. Eek!
Here are my thoughts regarding several of the characters. I enjoyed the witty dialogue among the humorous side characters, but I loved the two feisty main characters even more.
- Spunky seventeen-year-old Teriana is a member of the Maarin people, who are seafaring traders and merchants. The Maarin people are the only ones not under the control of the Empire in their part of the world. Teriana’s people also hold the key to traveling to the other side of the land of Reath, called the Dark Shores, which has been kept secret from the rulers of Celendrial. But Teriana is forced to give up that secret when the lives of those she loves are threatened.
- Legatus Marcus is the commander of the Empire’s most notorious legion. He is tasked with finding a route to the Dark Shores, holding Teriana and her crew members hostage. But there is more to Marcus than meets the eye. He is not exactly who he claims to be. Separated from his family at a young age, he survived his grueling military training despite his asthma-like condition. As commander, he makes tough choices in order to protect the lives of his soldiers, his brothers-in-arms.
- I think the romance between Marcus and Teriana is done well. It is a tension-filled, slow burn romance. And I mean, real slow. No insta-love here. They are real enemies at first, and it takes quite a while for them to even develop and then actually admit their feelings for each other.
- I do question the way Lydia’s character (Teriana’s friend) is handled in the book. I feel that perhaps her potential wasn’t fully utilized; her purpose in this book is primarily to help initiate the main conflict. I kind of wish for more from characters like Lydia – especially if they are introduced in the beginning in a way that makes them seem as if they will play a larger role in the story. But Lydia doesn’t really play any other role.
- I also noticed that several other characters, such as Bait, weren’t very fleshed out and kind of faded from the main storyline. At least, that’s how it felt when I was reading.
That ending left me reeling! I had been reading the entire book as if it were a standalone novel. Then it suddenly ended, and I was like, “Wait, did I miss something?” Apparently, there is a sequel planned. Hooray! Because there are several conflicts and loose ends that are left unresolved at the end of the book. I was a little disappointed that there isn’t more closure in the first book, but I look forward to seeing how the author will wrap things up in the sequel.
Another thing that stuck out to me is that we don’t actually get to see Teriana’s homeland in this book, and I kind of wished we had. But perhaps we will in the sequel.
I also noticed that there is no actual appearance of Urcon, the corrupt ruler whom Marcus’s men fight against near the end. Because there is so much talk about how evil he is, I was slightly disappointed that there is no scene with him specifically in it.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this action-packed adventure! If the story interests you, feel free to check it out when it releases tomorrow. Thanks for reading, and I hope my review was helpful 🙂
*Content warnings: violence/torture, some swearing throughout (multiple uses of the s-word and at least one f-word), one intimate scene that sort of fades out.*