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Beyond a Darkened Shore (2018)

by Jessica Leake

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1365159,752 (3.73)None
Vikings meets Frostblood in this romantic historical fantasy stand-alone from author Jessica Leake. 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 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.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
A fast paced Irish adventure with Vikings!

Full review over on the blog kymisanreads.blogspot.com ( )
  kymisan | Jun 23, 2020 |
For a book that promised a warrior maiden protagonist and a world filled with the dark delights of Norse and Celtic mythology, this book did NOT pay off.

First of all, Ciara just wasn't a relatable character for me. Her emotional responses to things were indifferent at best, and her feelings were told in thoughts and dialogue that made it difficult for me to care about her. Her relationships with the other characters were quite changeable, and frankly? I just don't believe her.

The magic system here had very limited, easily retracted consequences that meant a lot wasn't put on the line for the success of these characters. Thanks again to Ciara's flat personality, the few things that WERE at stake, I couldn't care less about. In a setting that should be dark and magical, we spend too much time traveling pointlessly in circles and trying to force a love story that didn't seem to click.

My biggest pet peeve, though, was in the details. There were multiple inconsistencies in the text with even my very LIMITED knowledge of Celtic and Norse mythology. Beyond the mythos - if you want to write that part off as creative license - there were parts written into the setting and world building that didn't make sense. At one point, a character mentions there was a formidable army of 50 that they defeated, and I had to slam the book down, because 50 is somewhere between a scouting party and war council - definitely not an ARMY. The fact checking to add realism here just... did not seem to happen. And that totally broke the illusion for me.

I think that this book still has the potential to be enjoyed by a lot of people. Not everyone reads books in the same way that I do, and not everyone is looking for the depth and world building that I have come to expect from my fantasy. I think that there are a lot of people out of there who would really enjoy this one, but it just fell WAY below my expectations. ( )
  Morteana | Jul 16, 2018 |
3.75 stars

Literary Merit: Good
Characterization: Very Good
Recommended: Recommended
Level: High School

Jessica Leake’s Beyond A Darkened Shore blends together Norse and Celtic mythology, magic, mystery, romance, and bloodshed as two enemies are forced to become allies on an epic quest to save both of their people.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. Ciara, our female protagonist, is fierce, capable, and full of magic and a thirst for vengeance against the one that murdered her sister. Leif, a Northman, and Ciara’s sworn enemy is quite similar. Having also lost his sister to a gruesome death, he too seeks vengeance against the murderer. When the two find each other in battle, a mystical force sends them a message declaring they must become allies in order to both prevail and not only get vengeance, but also protect their people. There’s a decent amount of action throughout the story and a lot of descriptions of death in battle and the horrifying ways in which it occurs, so be aware if you have sensitivities.

Leif and Ciara are both fleshed out pretty well, with their magical abilities and their reasoning for their actions, but overall, they aren’t really anything new to the YA genre. They fit a lot of molds that already exist, which isn’t a bad thing, but isn’t particularly interesting either. I did quite enjoy their banter and the fact that they were enemies to friends to lovers, which is basically my most favorite trope ever.

I don’t know a lot about the mythology that was presented, both Norse and Celtic, but I really liked getting to learn more about each, especially the idea of an army of the dead. I got major Return of the King vibes, which I am 100 percent here for. The story as a whole was easy to follow, if a little slow in the middle, but overall really well written and enjoyable to read. ( )
  SWONroyal | Jul 10, 2018 |
“The laws are clear: there are only two strong enough to defeat them. One born for it, the other through great sacrifice.”
I will always pick up a mythology book. It’s one of my book buzz words that almost guarantees I will be interested in reading a book. I’m happy to say that Beyond a Darkened Shore did not disappoint me.Beyond a Darkened Shore follows Ciara and Leif, two people with special powers, who might be the only ones capable of stopping a looming destruction. Yes this synopsis sounds completely unoriginal and boring, but I really enjoyed the book - which is saying a lot because almost all of my March reads were lackluster.

Things I Liked
As I said above all things mythology and getting to see Celtic and Norse mythology was a huge selling point. I loved learning all about the gods, the history of both Ciara and Leif’s people and seeing the rich worldbuilding come to life.

I am such an easy going shipper - I’m go with the flow on romances in stories like 90% of the time. That said, while the romance isn’t a selling point of the story for me, I definitely had a goofy grin on my face a time or two. Ciara & Leif were such a well-balanced match that bickered, but respected each other and were all around entertaining.

There was a lot of action in the story, as one would expect with a world-altering battle taking place. But here the stakes felt high, and there was tension in the action, which I always appreciate.

Things I Didn’t Like
While I did like the action through the entire story, the final battle felt little anticlimactic. Things just got a little too easy and everything happened a little too quickly. I would have liked some more consequences overall.

Last few chapters kinda felt like prolonged epilogue to me. Not in a bad way, but I felt like there was an ending point that was beautiful and perfect and fit the story, but then there was 3 more chapters.

I seem to finally be moving out of my mediocre reading phase and I couldn’t be happier with all the Spring releases coming up! Beyond a Darkened Shore is an actiony and engaging story of sacrifice and honor that you can’t miss.

I received a copy of the book from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  LifeofaLiteraryNerd | Apr 27, 2018 |
Showing 4 of 4
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For Karina, who wouldn't let this book go gently onto that good shelf.
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I learned to hate the sea.
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Vikings meets Frostblood in this romantic historical fantasy stand-alone from author Jessica Leake. 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 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.

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