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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.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.37(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
Jessica Leake is the author of the adult novels Arcana and The Order of the Eternal Sun, both with Skyhorse. She worked for years as a psychotherapist, but even though she loved her clients, she couldn’t stop writing. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, four young children, lots of chickens, and two dogs who keep everyone in line. Beyond a Darkened Shore is her YA debut. Visit her at www.jessicaleake.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
I absolutely loved Beyond a Darkened Shore. This novel is brilliant. The writing, the character development, the plot, everything is beautiful and wonderful. Leake did a fantastic job with the mythology, and I loved seeing ancient mythological creatures come to life in a historical narrative instead of in contemporary society. That being said, not everyone will love this novel. It's heavy on the medieval history and Leake was brave to write a story like this, especially as a YA trope. I could clearly picture medieval Ireland as if I were there. I felt like I was back in Ireland, visiting Dublina and being immersed in the long history of the land. This novel is exquisite. Ciara is a strong female lead, and I really enjoyed reading from her perspective. She can be stubborn at times, but can't we all? She is extremely loyal and loves deeply, even though no one gives her a chance. She's better than her entire clan combined, in my opinion. She learns a lot and grows so much throughout her journey. I really admire her resilience and adaptability. Leif is a great love interest. He is also strong, and while he is more open-minded, he still grows and changes throughout the narrative as well. The writing in this novel is fantastic. The world-building and setting descriptions are beautifully done. This book has so many messages in it: don't judge people who are different (they just may save your life); generalizing, prejudging, and dehumanizing groups of people is wrong; everyone has a place where they belong; you have to accept yourself before you can accept others; a relationship should be an alliance, a partnership, not some co-dependent nightmare... I could go on. I love that this book is pushing back against prejudice and judgment. Additionally, the novel is fairly fast-paced, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat. I've read and heard stories about all of the mythological creatures that are in this book, but Leake's rendition did the Irish fables honor by being truly horrifying. I really enjoyed the fact that Ireland had the Irish Celtic deities guarding it and the Nordic region had the Norse deities guarding it. The religions co-existed beautifully together, and it also gave another meaning to home: you were cut off from your own deities, more or less, when you were in another land. It also showed that truth is a matter of perspective when it comes to beliefs. The mythological creatures truly came alive under Leake's pen (or keyboard, I guess). The twist in the novel wasn't super surprising, but the outcome of the twist did shock me. The ending was beautiful and tied things up wonderfully. This is the first book I've ever read by Jessica Leake, but after devouring it, I will definitely be reading the other novels she's written.
This book was incredible. I could not put it down. The characters relate-able. The scenery so detailed you feel like you're there. The battle scenes are gut twisting as a good battle scene should be. This author has created such compelling worlds and characters and I can't wait to read more.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It took me a while to get through (but only because I’m one who watches Game of Thrones through their fingers). But I am so glad I kept going. The worlds created in this novel are simply breathtaking. The lands and the creatures that inhabit them are mysterious and magical. The story was beautifully executed and the folklore on point. Jessica has such a way with words I’m always in awe. Ciara is a strong, stubborn female lead and Leif is a witty, charming male counter lead. They are the perfect example of opposites attract.
“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. 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 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.
2.5 stars? I was all over that synopsis and the bird on the cover and sadly it took a lot for me to get through this one. I really liked Ciara and Leif. She stands up for herself and he’s cocky and together they’re fantastic. I loved the scenes of them bantering or kissing or pushing each other’s buttons. Plot wise it was booooooooring and yet not. When there are awesome things happening, they’re mostly awesome. It’s the parts in between where I struggled to keep going. Eventually things got repetitive and this felt like the longest book of my existence. The last 20 or so percent was what I wanted for the entire book, but by then I just wanted it to be over. Overall, it was a fantastic idea with characters I really liked. The dry, dense plot and stretches of telling and not showing made it drag. **Huge thanks to Harper Teen for providing the arc free of charge**