*Review* Dark Shores by Danielle Jensen ⚓️

Foreword

  • Theme: An ancient Rome-inspired world of YA Fantasy
  • Nature of Review: NetGalley provided me with an ARC to review (note that final drafts may differ slightly from the ARC)
  • Release Date: Dark Shores is scheduled for release May 7th, 2019

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Plot Summary

Please note: I write ALL synopses in my own words. What I write is not an official synopsis of any novel.

East must not meet West.

All her life, Teriana has been told this. All her life, she has held the secrets of her sea-faring people close. East must not meet West. West must not meet East. Take no passengers. Tell no one.

The Maarin are the only people who know that there is a way to cross the Endless Sea, to get past the doldrums that have stranded thousands of men to their deaths, and reach the other side of Reath. They sail shore to shore, selling goods and making gambles, but never once telling the secrets that another land exists across the sea. And yet, as political unease settles over the Empire of Celendor and Teriana finds her best friend, Lydia, in the middle of a dangerous arranged marriage, Teriana finally slips.

The Empire never keeps secrets for long, and Teriana finds her crew at the mercy of the ruthless Thirty-Seventh Legion, given no choice but to sail them across the sea in their aspiration to conquer the Dark Shores.

A story filled with vile conquerors, beautiful friendships, meddling Gods and emotional strife, Dark Shores is an epic tale with a tribute to the bloodshed of humankind.

Review on Characters

(the characters were EVERYTHING that brought this book together for me)

  • Teriana: our main character is a fierce Maarin pirate, her people being worshipers of Madoria, the goddess of the seas. As the second mate of her mother’s ship, the Quincense, she is respected by members of every clan across the Reath. Having been one to hold her own on the seas and on land, Teriana is tough as nails, hilariously fierce (even at the worst of times), and loyal in her faith to the Six Gods. Throughout the story, I sympathized with Teriana through all her struggles. She is forced to make impossible decisions for her people, go through emotional turmoil regarding her faith, and deny her true feelings in order to survive the Dark Shores. I loved how true her character was, how her wit and attitude brought relief to the story, and how she never once tried to change herself and took strength in her differences.
  • Marcus: our other main character is the Legatus of the Thirty-Seventh Legion, taken from his family at a young age, stripped of his identity and forced to fight for the Empire, despite the feelings he’s buried deep in order to survive. Marcus is widely feared for the bloody history of his Legion, and known to be stone-cold and unfazed. I respected Marcus’s character more than any others, for the desperate authenticity that is layered deep below the surface. Not only are there piles of lies placed on him, tragedies that he is forced to bear witness to, and emotions that are revealed only to us as the reader, but he also suffers from a mental illness. His character is revealed layer by layer, and I loved him more and more, both as the hero and as the villain he is portrayed to be.
  • The Thirty-Seventh Legion: part of the cast of secondary characters I had to mention, the young men of the Thirty-Seventh are Marcus’s brotherhood. They provide comic relief, intense battle scenes and heartwarming relationships that show there is more than one side to every character and more than one type of person that makes a solider. They are a group of ruthless, deadly and violent men, forced to serve no one, trust nothing, and know no family but the Mother Empire. But beneath these hardened Legionnaires are remnants of the boys they had been, taken from their families and their homes, with a shred of hope left that they can still make a better future. The bonds they formed are beautiful and strong and I loved them being the background of the story.

Overall Thoughts

The Ancient Rome-inspired world Danielle Jensen creates is full of fantastical twists and turns, with new secrets unveiled with each turn of the page. She doesn’t shy away from representing the truths hidden in each of her characters, good or bad, and uses them to build a diverse cast. The story of explorers and conquests is known to have disastrous consequences, and yet our characters bring us hope things will work out differently for them. No detail was misplaced, every plot line beautifully woven into the magical tale that creates Dark Shores. With an open ending fit for a sequel, our characters find themselves at a crossroads, waiting to find their true path.

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