#Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #Audiobook #ScienceFiction #YAFiction

There is no love greater than the one held for a well-written book, and I am starting to see now why The Illuminae Files has such a strong international fandom. Snarky, shameless intertextual, deliberately diverse, and the epitome of the high-stakes YA space opera, I can’t recommend this book and this series highly enough.


geminaTitle: Gemina

Series Title: The Illuminae Files

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Listening Library

Publication Date: October 18, 2016

Genre: YA Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Themes: Space, Survival, Corporatism, Adventure, Love, Family, War

Features: N/A


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.


My Review

AAAAAAHHHHH!

Somebody tell me why I waited so long to get back into this series. Seriously! It’s so damned good, particularly the audiobook adaptation. Those voice actors deserve a freaking gold star because they brought this book to life!

At first I was a little sad that this story took a step away from Kady and Ezra, because their sass and dynamic was particularly magnetic, but cue Hanna and Nik and after 3 chapters I was totally sold. I mean you have a bad boy born into a family of crime that actually has a heart of gold, and a spoiled little rich girl who just so happens to be a tactical badass. Put them together with the combined threats of a damaged wormhole, psychedelic slime aliens loose in the station, and a sleeper cell that’s come to take out all remaining witnesses to the Kerenza attack and you have drama and action around every corner. If you hate adrenaline, big reveals, plot twists, and swoon-worthy slow burn romance with more yearning than one brain can reasonably handle, I strongly urge you to stay away.

What I loved most about this book is that it’s clearly written for teens and features teens. They’re old enough to know some shit and be badass, but young enough to still need their parents and question their every move. They grieve like teens, say and do stupid shit like teens, regularly reference pop culture like teens, and have to constantly defend their abilities to condescending adults like teens. Oh, and they enjoy rebelling against authority figures and asserting their newly found identities just let teens. This might be an epic space opera set at a wormhole jump station caught in the crossfire of multiple covering universes but these kids are REAL!

And can I just give a special shoutout to Ella? She might not be one of our main protagonists, but that girls is so damned likeable I legit cried every time she died because of the Gemina field. It was refreshing to see a physically disabled girl play such a strong and integral character. Not only is she a queen spider of the ones and zeros, she is young and vulnerable and incapable of caring for fish. I adored how she wore sarcasm like an armour and always added levity to those heavier moments.

There’s so much more to talk about – like a painfully beautiful traitor, Kady Grant’s father taking Hanna under his wing, the awesome depravity of the BeiTech strike team, and the trials the weave all of these disparate narratives together. But, I don’t like giving out spoilers and I fear that these comments would tread a dangerous line. Just know that every line is action packed perfection, and that you need to read it. Every element in these stories are so carefully wrought and expertly woven together that it’s almost impossible for me to accept that Gemina is a collaboration.

I can’t wait for our two divergent crews of space heroes and heroines to come together in Obsidio and kick some serious BeiTech ass. There will be sass, action, and attitude beyond measure, and I have the feeling that there is nothing in the verse that will stop them from succeeding.


I borrowed this audiobook from my local library as a result of blogger recommendations, all opinions are my own.

 

#Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #Audiobook #ScienceFiction

One of the goals I’ve set myself for 2020 is to catch up on all those series where I read book one and never got around to reading the rest. I know, I know…bad me. But the good news is that I’ve actually been making some headway. Yippee!

Last week I ran a poll to see if all you bookish people would be game for a series review over individual reviews for each book thinking that I might be able to save myself some words, but noooooo. Y’all are a thirsty bunch!

So, get ready for a lot of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kritsoff this month. Here’s my 5* review for the first book in The Illuminae Files series Illuminae. It’s witty, intense, and quite possibly one of the best collaborations I’ve ever had the pleasure of engaging with. If you’re down for a space opera with kick-ass characters and a unique presentation, Illuminae is an absolute must – especially the audiobook!


illuminaeTitle: Illuminae

Series Title: The Illuminae Files

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Listening Library

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Genre: YA Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Themes: Space, Survival, Corporatism, Adventure, Love, Family, War

Features: N/A


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents–including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more–Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


My Review

Honesty time:

When I first tried to engage with Illuminae in print I really struggled. Like, hard. I had this hate on in my mind that Science Fiction was not for me (yet, I kept trying to read it anyways?!) and that as an adult I should be above YA. Obviously, both notions turned out to be absolute bollocks – it just took me a little while to realize it. Fast forward a few years when the audiobook pops up on my library’s recommended listening app and I say to myself ‘Hey Jessica, you were unfair in the past, why not give this another try?’

Best. Decision. Ever.

No, seriously. The audiobook is absolute gold. Read with a full cast of hilariously engaging narrators and packed full of intertextual Easter eggs, Illuminae had me wishing it was serialized as some sort of radio story hour for the whole world to hear. My hour’s drive back and forth to work quickly became the favourite part of my day, and I simply had to sit in the parking lot or my driveway when I got to my destination and wait for each section to end before clicking off. It was that good.

Part intergalactic survival adventure, part break-up/ make-up love story, and 100% teen angst and snark I was enamoured within the first few chapters. I loved the dossier style presentation and it really forced the reader, or in my case listener, to pay attention and piece together all the clues as the story progresses. We have the characters that we know and love like our tech prodigy Kady Grant, the jock turned fighter pilot Ezra Mason, and our gloriously flawed and dysfunctional AI system AIDAN, as well as some unknowns like our mysterious analysts. Each character has a distinct voice not only terms of the voice actor, but also in terms of style and vernacular, which lends itself nicely to an immersive experience. You’ll quickly start wondering just who the Illuminae Group is, what their overall objective is, and just why exactly are they following the trials and tribulations of teen lovers on separate space ships when there is a massive corporate war raging around them.

While I normally lean heavily towards a strong female character as my favourite of the bunch, little AIDAN won this book hands downs. I’ve never once considered what it would be like to enter an artificial intelligence’s conscious and the idea of it was absolutely enthralling, especially as AIDAN moved closer and closer towards atypical behaviour. It becomes both the threat towards, and saviour of the people under its protection and it’s nearly impossible to guess which AIDAN is going to be from one passage to the next. It makes the hard, emotionless decisions that humans are not willing to consider and you will either love of hate it for them. And the thought of a computer falling in love with a hacker {ERROR}? Genius.

I was also particularly drawn to the tension created between those who accepted our teen protagonists as experts on, and potential solutions to, some very big problems and those that saw them as nothing more than kids. This became a particularly thought provoking theme and the story (and series) progresses and really encourages discussion around who has ‘knowledge’, and we should go about acknowledging these skill sets in increasingly complicated and stratified societies.

The only thing I disliked about this book was that when it ended I had to wait 4 days before the second instalment was available for listening. If you like Firefly, space dramas, and a whole lot of snarky humour then I cannot recommend this baby highly enough. And if you don’t jive with the print edition, go audio. I promise you won’t regret it.


I borrowed this audiobook from my local library as a result of read-alike recommendations, all opinions are my own.

 

#ARC #Review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young @Adriennebooks #YAFantasy

Today I’m delighted to be sharing my review for The Girl the Sea gave Back by Adrienne Young. This bad boy is the epic sequel to Sky in the Deep and brings back the dynamic universe of clans, warriors, fjords and magic created in the first instalment. Told from the viewpoints of the now-grown Halvard and the mysterious truth tongue Tova, this fast paced adventure will take you on wild ride.


SeaTitle: The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Author: Adrienne Young

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction

Themes: War, Revenge, Coming of Age, Romance

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads… 

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.


My Review

Okay, let’s get some housekeeping out of the way right off the bat. While The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a sequel, it is not a retelling of Eelyn and Fiske’s epic love story. And guess what? That’s a good thing! How boring would it be to read the same story over and over again, just with different characters… ugh, yuck. Sure, we know that Halvard and Tova are going to have some chemistry but when you set that inevitability aside there’s actually a who lot of awesome and action to be had.

I really enjoyed how this book was a sequel, in so much as it was set in the same universe with some overlapping characters, but that it’s entirely independent and can easily be read as a standalone novel. Set ten years after the Aska and Riki ended a bitter blood feud in order to defeat the Herja, we’re brought back to the mountain and the fjord as a new battle rages. Only this time the story centres around the sweet and curious Halvard as he makes his way as a leader and a man, and also Tova, a bewitching Truthtongue with no memories of her past and the weight of a people on her shoulders. Together they navigate the treacherous future carved out as the Svell attack the Nadhir and seek to maintain the peace established by Eelyn and Fiske.

Now, I’m not normally a fan of passive/ submissive female characters, but I ended up really enjoying Tova. Yes, she is basically a captive of the Svell, manipulated but their Tala into doing his bidding and used as a tool of war but she offers continual acts of resistance in small ways in which she is capable. She sneaks into meetings from which she is forbidden, tells the truth even when it will anger her captors, and is unbelievably brave in the moments when courage is needed the most. She lies to her chieftain, plucks up the courage to attempt an escape, and when battle looms she takes up her bow. She might battle with her braids and struggle with dresses, but dang that woman is fierce!

Harvard too plays on some pretty strong emotions. He is a child of peace thrown into war, a fisherman’s son pushed into leadership at a young age, and through it all a young man trying to find his way in the world. Although he is a fierce warrior he is also sweet, and soft, and thoughtful in the kind of way that sucks you right in. The fear and apprehension of his pending responsibilities is only natural and entirely relatable. His coming of age showcases his varied experiences from those of his clansmen and demonstrates that there is strength in sensitivity.

I loved that Halvard continued his friendship with Asmund and Bard even after they left to become aider and the rest o the community turned their backs on him. It was touching that Halvard was frightened of being so much power as a leader and that he remained more concerned about doing right by his people than any sort of personal gain. And was absolutely gutted by how he always considered the implication his actions would have on family – if only everyone were so thoughtful! I found him to be a relatable and enjoyable character to read – equal parts awkward and burgeoning man, but what I loved most was how he read as a sweet young man. That’s right, he actually felt like a teen. Okay, okay, a highly trained and particularly deadly teen, but he felt his age and it was glorious!

Perhaps my only complaint is that I wanted more.

I wanted to know more of what happened between the battle with the Herja and the attack from the Svell. I wanted to know how the Aska and Riki navigated the joining of their clans and the quashing of their blood feud. I wanted more than passing glimpses of Eelyn, Fiske, Iri, Runa, Espen and Aghi. And I definitely wanted to know more about the Kyrr! A little extra attention to world building would have gone a long way but I’m greedy and this just wasn’t that kind of story. All I can say is take that desire fore more as a complement as this story sucked me right in, and as much as I enjoy jumping into a 400 page behemoth I completely understand that value of something that appears approachable on the shelf while simultaneously covering all it’s bases as a complete and compelling story.

Young’s writing is dynamic and approachable to a wide variety of audiences. As an adult reader I certainly enjoyed my time with this book, but it’s simple style and quick paced plot is sure to appeal to a younger audience as well. The romance in it is sweeter and more innocent than that of Sky in the Deep, but then again, so are all of the characters. Regardless, get ready to get your heart ripped out, say goodbye to some old favourites, and fall in love all over again. I absolutely adored this book, and hope that there are more to come.


Many thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

#BlogTour #Review: David Mogo: God Hunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa @IAmSuyiDavies @Tr4cyF3nt0n

DAVID MOGO BLOG TOUR Landscape.jpg

Today I have the pleasure of participating in the blog tour for David Mogo: Goodhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive coming into this one as God Punk is not a genre that I have ever explored in the past. But I’m delighted to say that the world building and own voice narration quickly won me over. If you have any interest in YA urban fantasy or even fantasy set away from the common western conventions then this one definitely worth a read.


mogoTitle: David Mogo: Godhunter

Author:  Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Publisher: Abbadon

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Genre: Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Nigerian God Punk

Themes: Family, Loyalty, Mythology

Features: N/A


Synopsis

Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.


My Review

This isn’t an easy read full of familiar places, soft language, and common tropes. But rather, it’s diverse, challenging, and wholly fantastic. The dialect takes some time to adjust to, especially as a North American reader, but if you give it some time and put some effort into paying attention it quickly becomes second nature. The premise is unique, with a set of gods that have been cats out of their own world and since taken over Lagos, along with a whole hoard of godlings and taboos. The desolation and reorganization of society gave a very different feel to the standard post-apocalyptic narrative and injected a healthy dose of culture.

That’s not to say that there isn’t any magic, because it’s present in wild abundance. The wizards and gods are both exceptionally well written with unique and distinctive qualities. I appreciated the differences between the two types of abilities with the magic of the wizards being tied to real and tangible things while the power of the gods were entirely intangible and otherworldly. All of the gods powers and personalities were deeply varied, creating landscape that is both exciting and difficult to navigate.

There are some uncomfortable moments, especially when it comes to Fati and the implied acts against her. But as uncomfortable as these moments were, I am glad that they were included as this is not the kind of books that skates around the darker side of life – especially when the societal structure favours a few with power and the masses subservient and impoverished. Now add in an ambivalent government that only cares about the upper echelons and would prefer to live in denial of reality and you have a pretty wicked storm.

I didn’t mind that the whole of the work is actually three novellas packaged together as a single unit. Each instalment had a clearly defined arc, villain, and objective and played extremely well off of the previous sections. They helped to clearly delineate the evolution of David’s development as both a character and powerful demigod. Plus, they facilitated some pretty serious jumps in time without injecting any tedious and extraneous text for plot advancement. My only really complaint is that the dispersal of the world building information throughout at times took on the feeling of massive info dumps. And while this may work better in a. novella setting where you need to pack a whole lot of information in a tiny space, but with the novel format I felt that there was more latitude to spread the spread the information out for a smoother presentation. But, and this is a big but, I am aware that my storytelling preferences are defined by the traditions that I have been brought up in and aware that this criticism might be based entirely on personal preferences and cultural constructs.

David himself is a complex and interesting character. He lives between two worlds in more ways than one – half god and half human he constantly walks a fine line between humanity and hypocrisy in his god hunting. He is also further divided between mainstream culture and the world of wizardry having been raised by Papa Udi, and again by the sleeping and waking worlds as he shifts between planes. These divisions are further emphasized by David’s constant code switching between the normalized western speech that he uses for business and the local dialect that he uses in the comfort of home. Don’t get me wrong, we all do this to some degree, utilizing different speech patterns at home than we do at work, it’s just much more evident in David and Papa Udi’s speech.

Finally, I enjoyed the variety present in the supporting characters. I loved Papa Udi’s unwavering support and complicated past, the complexity if the High Gods personalities and powers, and the depravity of the villains throughout. I would have loved to see some of these supporting characters developed a little more, but that’s just because they were so interesting! If Okungbowa were to put out a collection of short stories or novellas focusing on everyone else I’d be chomping at the bit to read it.

All together I really enjoyed David Mogo: Godhunter. It was a welcome introduction into the world of god punk and Nigerian urban fantasy as well as being a fabulous own voices read.It’s complex, imaginative, and full of action. If you want tottery something that’s both fantastical and far from the typical westernized conventions, this book is sure to please. Give the code switching and dialogue a chance to settle in and Okungbowa will take you on a fantastical ride.


About The Author

Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian writer of science fiction, contemporary and dark fantasy, and crime fiction. His work has appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Podcastle, The Dark, Mothership Zeta,

Omenana, Ozy, Brick Moon Fiction; amongst other magazines and anthologies. He is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, and has worked in editorial at Podcastle and Sonora Review. He lives online on Facebook, tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies, and blogs at suyidavies.com. His urban fantasy novel about gods in Lagos is forthcoming in 2019.


Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join this tour and providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

#Book #Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen #YALit #Fantasy @torteen @dljensen

Today I am so overjoyed to be sharing my review for Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen that I am breaking my only rule of book blogging: never review books written by people you know, love, or hate. In two years I have never before been tempted to toe this line, and yet here I am. I do hope that you enjoy this beauty as much as I did, because it is an absolute must read!


dark shoresTitle: Dark Shores

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Genre: Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Adventure

Themes: Survival, Magic, Conquest, Romance

Features: Glossary, Author’s Note


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.


My Review

Every now and then you come across the first book in a new series and you just know that it’s going to be something big. Dark Shores is that book. Imagine this – a powerful empire that has conquered all the nations in their known world and is ruled by a corrupt elite that will stop at nothing to take it’s taxes in coin, or children forced into servitude, discovers that there is a whole new world connected to their own through a nation of free and seafaring traders known as the Maarin. They have legions of career soldiers at their disposal, unlimited funds, and an insatiable desire to bring everything and everyone under their control. In light of these circumstances it seems only natural that the Celendor Empire would kidnap, torture, and murder hundreds of the Maarin traders until one of them begrudgingly agrees to lead two legions across the seas and aid them in their conquests. 

Unfortunately for Celendor, the Maarin that they torture in talking is seventeen-year-old Teriana – a sarcastic, quick-witted, spitfire of a girl who is as intent on subterfuge and disruption as she is on saving the lives of her crew and the rest of the Maarin that are being held by the Empire as collateral. What makes matters worse is that this mission is not merely a matter of crossing the Endless Seas into unknown lands populated by warrior nations and setting up a new regime. That would be far too simple. Instead this quest requires a touch of magic and permission from the gods. Gods who just so happen to be at odds as to whether or not the Cels should be permitted to cross the seas, if East should be allowed to meet West, and who may or may not have forsaken Teriana for breaking her most sacred of vows.

Can you say drama?

Written in split narrative between Teriana’s and Marcus’ point of view, the tension between their perspectives can seriously be cut with a knife. Their conversations and introspections provide the perfect avenue for character development and world building without being onerous, while their arguments and escapades deliver the excitement and adventure that make this an epic read.

Marcus is everything that you would expect from a legion commander – heady, calculating, and utterly ruthless. His every move plays into a larger strategy making it impossible to determine what’s genuine and what’s manipulation. And yet, he’s not the monster that the Empire wants him to be. He has a soft heart and a reverence for human life that leaves him constantly at odds with his orders. With Marcus, nothing is ever as it first appears as there are endless layers of motives, planning, and deceit making it impossible to gauge his true intentions. As a result, there is a tactful balance between the construction of a fearsome reputation and the pursuit of softer, much more personal desires. It helps too that he is a fatally flawed character, that he carries the kinds of secrets that could destroy lives and nations, and that he is deeply touched by all of the horrible things that he has done in the name of the Empire. It makes him human, relatable, and incredibly enigmatic.

Teriana on the other hand is brash, impulsive, and completely irreverent. Her stubbornness, the frequency with which she puts her foot in her mouth as the result of her sass, and her unwavering loyalty to the Maarin that makes her the perfect counter to Marcus’ disciplined and calculating nature. She wears her heart on her sleeve, embraces her emotions, and lives life to the fullest no matter the risk. She’s the kind of person that I’d happily loose all of my spare change to gambling with because because she’s the life of the party and instantly likeable, and of course, almost all of the men in the Thirty-Seventh feel the same way.

It’s always a pleasure to read characters with depth and complexity, especially in YA and fantasy, where it seems that so many can fall into stereotypes and tropes. It’s even better when you can watch these characters change and grow as the story progresses, and in this regard Dark Shores does not disappoint. Teriana, Marcus, and even the varied cast of secondary characters are full of revelations and change, and yet it’s clear that there is still so much more to come.

And we can’t forget to mention the fantastic world that Jensen has created. The contrast between East and West couldn’t be more stark with the Cels being godless, oppressed, and regimented to a tee while the people of the West are deeply spiritual and relish freedom in a way that the Cels can never comprehend. With the Celendor Empire inspired by Ancient Rome, there is just enough history to make this work of fantasy feel deeply rooted and real. Everything from the structure of the political system to the organization of the legions rings true, and yet enough liberties have been taken to keep everything fresh and original. Throw into the mix the Seven gods of the West with their realms, powers, and god-touched individuals and you truly have a war between worlds. The reverence for the Six and the fear of the Seventh creates a dynamic and magical experience that is easy to get swept up in. It’s detailed, magical, and so entrancing that it leaves you wanting more.

I can’t wait to see where this series goes, what the Six and the Corrupter have in mind for the Dark Shores, and the Thirty-Seventh and Forty-First legions will succeed in their mission of establishing a route through which they can conquer the West. There are so many sub-plots to be explored, battles to be fought, and questions to be resolved that  next book can’t help but be even better than the first. I loved every second of Dark Shores and my only regret is that I bought my copy on publication day and that I will now have to wait (impatiently) for the next instalment to be released.


Many thanks to Danielle L. Jensen, Tor Teen, and NetGalley for providing a galley in exchange for an honest review – even if I *may* have bought a hardcopy before finishing my ARC galley!