April 22, 2014

Review of Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count: 416
Format: Hardcover
Genre: YA/Fantasy

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 originally found out about Sea of Shadows through Epicreads when they talked about it several times, it sounded fairly interesting and the cover was gorgeous so I went ahead and bought it. After finishing it, I found out that it was not Kelley Armstrong's first novel as I had thought it to be but the latest of several. While I'm not interested in her other novels (I checked them out and meh) I found Sea of Shadows to be an enjoyable read that while slow at times was still intriguing.

I really loved the world that Kelley created in her novel, the majority of it takes place in a village near The Forest of the Dead where the criminals of the empire are exiled. The second half of the world takes place on the road to the emperor and the capital of the empire. I always enjoy reading books that are fantasy and set in the past AND have mythical creatures. This one certainly did not disappoint in that manner and gave me exactly what I wanted. There were also some interesting main characters and a number of secondary ones that added to the book. Moria and Ashyn are two twins who are the "Seeker" and the "Keeper" of the village. They are the ones chosen to communicate with the spirits and protect the people of the forest. One of them has a hound and the other a wildcat who help them in their tasks. The village also has a large amount of warriors who are men who have been trained in fighting for generations. One of these warriors, Avril and a thief that survives the forest accompany Mora and Ashyn. 

It seems like the village is amply protected from the forest but a whole string of problems start when the majority of the village is slaughtered and Mora and Ashyn get separated. They have to find each other and then travel to the emperor to warn him. Along the way they face things like bandits and supposedly mythical creatures like death worms and thunder hawks. The plot itself was interesting and I enjoyed it but it was slow and I mean SLOW. If I didn't have such high expectations for the book then I would have probably DNF'ed it. Sea of Shadows would have been MUCH more improved if the plot could have been sped up. However, despite this I trudged through the slowness and enjoyed it even if other people didn't.

Sea of Shadows had a great many elements to it that made the book enjoyable but the slowness of the plot pulled down its plot to a 4. If it wasn't so slow then I could have been inclined to rate it somewhere along the lines of a 4.5. If you enjoy fantasy books set in the past, mythical creatures, and don't mind a slow plot then you will probably enjoy Sea of Shadows. On a side note, I enjoyed Sea of Shadows enough to read its sequel when it comes out next year (it will be part of a trilogy).

4/5 - Good book

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