Mundie Moms

Thursday, April 12, 2018

BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE by Jessica Leake / Book Review #BeyondADarkenedShore

By: Jessica Leake
Published by: Harper Teen
Released on: April 10th, 2018
Purchase from: Harper | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
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Rating: 5 Stars - I LOVED IT!
Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

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.
A fantastic debut! This book is just the kind of fantasy I love. There are so many elements to this story that made this a book I couldn't easily put down. What's not to love about a book that centers around a Warrior Princess, Vikings, fae, both Norse and Celtic Mythology, set in beautiful 11th century Ireland & Norway with awesome battle scenes, and a romance. This book hooked me from the very beginning, and gave me a story I didn't want to end.  

I am a sucker for a well written fantasy, and this book had everything I look for in a YA fantasy. From the characters, to the setting, and all the in between, I absolutely loved this story! One of my favorite elements is the way Leake combined both Norse and Celtic Mythology, as well has some historical elements. I absolutely loved how Leake blurred the lines between all three to create something that was believable. I loved the role the mythology characters from both Norse and Celtic mythologies played in this story. The Morrigan was one of my favorite. 

Ciara was a character I enjoyed getting to know from the get go. She fully embraces the Warrior Princess she is, but it definitely comes at a high cost. She definitely grows a lot as a character, and learns to fully embrace the power she has been gifted as she goes on her journey. It was interesting to see her shift as she comes to more fully understand her role in all that's going on, the choices characters have made, and learn more about the different mythologies she and Leif believe in. Those mythologies are at the center of their journey, and are what brought them together in the first place. 

I loved Leif. For how brutal Northmen are, he really surprised me. Like Ciara, I really enjoyed getting to know him, and the mythologies he and his people believe in. It was interesting to see that both he and Ciara weren't all that different when it comes to what they've dwelt with, and what they believe in (their mythologies). Not only that, they're both driven by revenge and vengeance for a loved one they've both lost. I loved seeing the two of them learn to trust one another, and seeing that grow into something more. 

I absolutely loved this book! There are so many elements to it that I fell in love with. It's not just the characters that drive this book, but the mythology as well. The setting ties into that as do a number of the characters. What Leake created felt authentic, lively, and worked perfectly for Ciara and Leif's story. I loved all she created and the way she told this story. I also enjoyed her notes at the end of the book talking about her research, as well as giving readers more information about both Norse and Celtic Mythology. 

This book is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2018! If this cover doesn't want to make you pick up this book, I hope the premise does. Speaking of the cover, I loved how the crow and ravens were used in this story, and their ties to the two mythologies used in the book. If it's not already, add BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE to your TBR lists this year! I love that this is a stand alone, but I am really hoping we get more stories from this enchanting world.