Review of Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.
A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON
Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. 
A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET
Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. 
A DANGEROUS QUEST
When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

“Its time for you to let go of the lies Mother Empire has whispered in your ear and start seeing the world for what it really is – Inexplicable. Limitless. Divine.”

For me, Dark Shores is something pretty special. It’s been a long time since I have been so utterly and completely pulled into a story within the first few pages.  The story felt alive with excitement and so much promise was poured into the opening chapters. With a Roman influence the created world was given a comfortable familiarity, enough to allow an overall vision which meant that the author only had to sprinkle in the details to bring the world alive. I think it was made even better for me that I really clicked with the authors writing, she writes in the way I would speak so I felt really at home in the pages. The premise is wonderfully simple – East must not meet West, and because of this we have more than one wonderfully built world with the sea’s being their own glorious and sometimes gruesome entities, leading the Godless and the God Fearing together in a pretty cataclysmic way.

Although not split in this way, the book does have 3 distinct parts to it and I enjoyed how the focus wasn’t pulled in a “meanwhile back at…” way, everything was in the now with our protagonists which is why the alternating POV’s (my favourite) worked so well. Honestly, I’m still pretty taken aback by the sheer amount of happenings that took place, writing a review whilst trying to avoid spoilers when there were so many amazing set pieces, daring escapades, schemes, and plots is no easy feat.  I think it’s safe to say that you will not be bored reading Dark Shores, it really covers all the bases for awesome.

Teriana is a fantastic character, from her first secretive nimble steps to her friend to her empowering skills with both blade and ship; she’s pretty awesome and her sass and snark made her totally relatable for me (I do enjoy a good cutting comment now and then.) I adored how she was able to hold her own so completely and with a finesse rarely achievable in a world of sweaty soldiers and unknown peril. Marcus could have easily been a pretty one dimensional character but his back story really shapes him, where Teriana was awesome from page one, Marcus had the real development arc for me, the slow burn that got under my skin. Despite there being plenty of side characters they never got lost in the story and they bring a real lightness in the heavier sections and I loved the diversity in them.

As it’s the first in a series there is obviously much left hanging in the balance and more to explore. The network is something that I’m very much looking forward to hopefully understanding more of as the story continues and I’m pretty hopeful that there will be a character that we’ll see again. Dark Shores is wrapped up in a satisfying way and whilst I would obviously like book 2 now, it stopped at a great point that wrapped up what needed to be so I could close the book (or ebook as it happens) with a smile rather than a sigh.

I absolutely adored this book and hope you will too!

5*

 

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