Hi! I know I have been gone from the blog for a bit, but I’m back with a new book review! I was lucky enough to get an e-ARC from Netgalley to review this story and I look forward to talking about it!
Here is a little bit of information about the book:
Title: Dark Shores
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
Release Date: May, 2019
Publisher: Tor Teen
Page Count: 368
My Rating: 3 1/2 out 5
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.
When I first read about Dark Shores, I knew I had to read it! The discerption mentioned meddling gods, adventures, and pirates…all things that are perfect for a fantastic story. After creating my account on Netgalley I noticed this was a book you could request and I made sure to try my luck at getting a chance to review it. When I got the alert that I was approved, I was beyond excited to read the story right away. Sadly, a little bit of life got in the way and I had to push my reading of ARCs back a little. Once I was able to start reading Dark Shores, I didn’t want to stop! I went in expecting one type of story, but found something way different.
Now, lets get into the review! I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, so I’m going to try and stay away from anything that may ruin the story for anyone. If you want to go in absolutely blind to the story, maybe skip this review. Again, I don’t plan to say any major spoilers, but I might mention something that could spoil the story if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about it. With that being said, lets begin!
One of the biggest takeaways I got from Dark Shores is that if you are expecting a swashbuckling pirate story, this is going to disappoint you. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the story and there are pirates, but this book is more about politics, war, and the adventure in discovering new places. If I had to compare this book to something, I would almost want to say it has a similar story and feel as the movie Gladiator. The setting has a very ancient Rome feel, and the fight for leadership and the way the legions are described kept making me think of Gladiator. This is not a bad thing, I really enjoy stories in that time period and I also really like that movie. It’s nice to have something to compare it to, because it makes it a bit more easy to understand the setting and motives of the people. There is also a big focus on religion and the gods this world worships (or don’t depending on where you are in the world.) With these two elements in addition to the cast of characters we are introduced to, makes the story something you get sucked into and don’t want to put down.
We are introduced to a couple of main characters that are decently complex. Teriana and Marcus are equally interesting in their own way.
Teriana– When it comes to fierce females to lead a story, Teriana is a pretty good example. She is a pirate, pretty much royalty in her own way, independent, family driven, and strong. From the moment you meet her you get that she is a character that won’t be pushed around, and you would be right. She is very loyal to her crew members and her mother. She cares deeply for what could happen to her family in the story and this puts her in a bit of a problem later on. (Trying so hard not to spoil anything!) Even when everything seems to be going south for her, she keeps it together. She can be a bit of a sassy character and you definitely know how she feels about most of the characters in the book.
Marcus– Our strong, loyal, protective, legionnaire. Marcus’s story is one that does interest me maybe a tad more than Teriana. I think this comes to the fact that our very dependable soldier actually has a bit of a dark past and keeps many secrets from those around him. We discover a few of these secrets, as well as some of the reasons he has them and what happens if people find out, but our dear Marcus still has some mystery to him. I love how protective he is of his men. Although a bit of a dark spot when it comes to Marcus’s family, I love that the reader gets to see the family he worked to create, and what he is willing to do to make sure they are provided for and safe. As the old saying goes, everyone loves a man in armor. 😉
Although I enjoyed this book, I did have a few moments that I liked less than the others.
The pacing for the book was a bit slow at points. The story starts with a big opening and gets pretty interesting early on, but at times it felt like the pace slowed. There were sections I really wanted to just skim so I could try and get back to the more exciting parts.
Teriana is a bit of a 50/50 character for me. While I really enjoyed Marcus, Teriana didn’t quite make me love her. She is a decently strong individual and I thought some of her emotions toward events, mainly dealing with her crew, did show a little vulnerability. However, her hate toward Marcus from the start didn’t quite make all that much sense to me. I understand the reasons she has for hating him, but I feel like at times she acted unfairly toward him. She has moments of sarcasm and recklessness that bugged me a little, but I do understand she is only 17 and was put in a pretty rough place to navigate through. Teriana took a little bit to grow on me, but I’m hoping she will be more likable in the next book.
Romance in an adventure book such as this is a tricky balance to me. While I do enjoy romance in books, I feel like some authors just throw it in when it’s not needed. The enemy to lovers relationship is always fun to me, but I like to see the relationship be a slow burn. This book started the romance decently, but by the end it slipped a bit for me. Based on events taking place in this book, I can see how a relationship between the two main characters could easily happen, but it was rushed a bit to quickly for me. Teriana spends most of the book letting us know just how much she HATES Marcus, yet it’s as if she just flips a switch in a single moment. Personally I feel the romance could have been a bit slower, perhaps waiting until book 2 or so before making our characters fall so madly in love.
The Dark Shores had a dangerous and mysterious feel when you read about them at the start, and even though the adventure takes us to the Shores, I leave the book feeling like I still know nothing about them. I understand this book is the first in a new series so there does need to be some world building, but I wish I had a little bit more. We are supposed to be going to these shores and it was going to be extremely dangerous…yet I never truly understood why because even once the story gets you there nothing happens that shows me what is so bad other than one group of people. I feel like the part of the book that could have been the most interesting missed an opportunity to shine just to play up a bit more of the romance.
I really hope we see more use of magic and learn more about the gods in later books. The story gives you a slight glimpse into a fascinating world of mythology, but doesn’t really explore it. Teriana and her crew explains a little about the gods to the legions, and we get an exciting moment with a couple of gods, but that is about it. I’m a big mythology person, and the mention of gods in the description is something that pulled me into wanting to read the story, so I was mildly disappointed when I didn’t get much of them.
Overall, I enjoyed this read. Although it was a bit off from what I expected going in, I enjoyed what I got. The story, world, and characters kept me interested enough throughout the book and I will most likely pick up the sequel when it comes out. This was the first book I have read from this author, but I liked her style of writing and plan to try her other books as well. If you are looking for a book that has an Ancient Rome feel, Pirates, Political conflict, interesting characters, and a pretty decent adventure this book is a good pick!
Have you read this book yet? If you have, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for something else that might give you the same enjoyment as this book? Here are a few books, movies, and game recommendations!
A Darker Shade of Magic (Both books have multiple point of views to read from. Teriana and Leah are both Pirates and strong female characters, Marcus and Kel are both loyal to their families and soldiers. Each book has magic and somewhat gods. There is also different parts of the world that must be kept secret from people. While East must not meet West in DS, others are not supposed to know about parallel worlds in ADSOM. There is also the fact that the Maarins pass supplies from East to West, and Kel carries messages from London to London so that the worlds never meet.)
Game of Thrones (I have not read the books for GoT yet, but I do watch the show! The only reason I would recommend this show/book is merely based on the political aspects. GoT is full of people trying to be the one to rule all the world, and although it’s on a different scale DS also has characters that are scheming to be the only one to rule.)
Gladiator (I already mentioned in the review that there are similarities between DS and Gladiator. DS is based on ancient Rome even though the world is fictional. If you enjoyed the legions, political drama, and world of DS there is a good chance you will also enjoy Gladiator.)
Pirates of the Caribbean (There really is not a lot in common between PotC and DS, I just wanted to recommend something fun to watch to help give you a pirates fix since we didn’t get much from DS.)
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (Like Gladiator, this is pretty much set in the same world. Ancient Rome is enjoyable to explore in ACO, and the politics are almost the same as well. Exploring in the game may help you while reading DS.)
I really hope you enjoyed the review and look forward to posting again soon!