Sea of Shadows – Review

It’s truly been a roller coaster: Upon hearing the premise of Kelley Armstrong’s Sea of Shadows, I was excited. It was a pretty fresh idea. The fact that I actually had to wait for its release only added to my excitement. Then I started reading it. I found it to be slow, at first. Page after page was turned, but I didn’t feel like anything was happening. I started to feel a little disappointed. In all honesty, I considered returning the book.

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

I am fairly glad I didn’t. The last half of the book came pummelling towards me with all of the suspense and action and romance that I’d been missing in the beginning. If you decide to read this book, stick through the beginningThe way I see it, the first half is more of an introduction, an immersion into the characters, their culture, and their customs. Once we’ve got all that, the story leaps into action. It almost seems like the story will gain even more traction in its sequel; as though, while the last half of the book was the most action-filled, it was only the beginnings of the snowball.

Sea of Shadows is written alternating between Moria’s point of view and Ashyn’s, though in the third person. Moria is the brash, outspoken, swaggering twin, while Ashyn is her quieter, more peace-making counterpart. At first, I found myself more drawn to the starburst that is Moria, but as the story progressed, I found myself leaning more towards Ashyn. I enjoyed her half of the story immensely, more than Moria’s, though hers was also interesting. Maybe part of it was because of their romantic interests.

Just like with Moria and Ashyn, my preference towards the male leads changed as I read the book. At first I favoured Gavril – he was a warrior, the kind of stern man that makes young girls hearts flutter, and the tattoos just push that into overdrive. I didn’t like the braids, however, though it was a minor trait. Ronan, I thought at first, was a proud man. I didn’t think much of him until the book was well progressed. I can’t pinpoint just what it is about him (perhaps I’m still a bit surprised at one of the books events), but I like Ronan more. I just do.

I wasn’t completely satisfied with the romance between Ronan and Ashyn. The development seemed a little choppy to me, and the kiss was a complete surprise. Of course, I had sensed that Ronan was becoming more and more inclined to Ashyn and not Moria, but it didn’t seem to be at that point. It was a huge leap, for me. Moria and Gavril’s romance seemed a lot more fluid to me.

Whether I would buy it again if I had the chance…I’m not so sure. I enjoyed it, to be sure, but it didn’t blow me away, or live quite up to my expectations. Overall, I would recommend this book for those of you who don’t need the action to start right away. If you don’t mind a bit of a warm-up, and love fantastical action, I would recommend Sea of Shadows.

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