Beyond a Darkened Shore
by Jessica Leake
What is it about:
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 thankfully 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.
What did I think of it:
This is a really cool read.
Ciara might be the daughter of a king, but her powers make her an outcast. Even so she is loyal to her people and wants to protect them from the danger she sees coming. I loved her strength and her unwavering loyalty. That loyalty goes so far she is willing to join forces with the enemy if it means her people are safe.
Leif had to grow on me. He starts out a bit too 'manly man knows better than weak little woman'. Luckily Ciara keeps putting him in his place and he learns. I liked how they aren't immediately friends, but are unwilling allies until they get to know each other better. I had wanted a more intense conclusion to the building tension between them, but that was not to be.
Knowing a bit about both Celtic and Norse mythology I enjoyed how Leake used them. This story isn't set in a Fantasy world (where I don't mind if an author totally sets own rules), but in a historical setting, so I love that the mythology wasn't butchered. On their quest to save the world Ciara and Leif encounter creatures from both mythologies, and there wasn't a dull moment. The sense of urgency and danger is ever present.
There is lots of action, heartache, betrayal, and difficult decisions. I had a hard time putting the book down. This is a standalone, so it has a satisfying ending with no cliffhangers. I did feel that one small storyline was left hanging, but it wasn't annoying. All in all a great read.
You bet I'll keep an eye on Leake's future releases.
Why should you read it:
It's a great Historical Fantasy YA read.
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