Book Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Title: Sea of Shadows
Series: Age of Legends #1
By: Kelley Armstrong
Author Info: Website | Twitter |Goodreads
Age Group: YOUNG ADULT
Genre Type: Paranormal, Fantasy, Supernatural
Publication Date: April 8th 2014
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.
Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong is the first book in her new Age of Legends series. Filled with a unique fantasy world, dark magic and two strong sister heroines, this series is off to a pretty good start.
This is my first experience reading one of Kelley Armstrong's books, so I went into it with open expectations, hoping to read an exciting, new young adult series with some terrific elements of magic and world building that would capture my imagination, as well as an exciting plot and two strong heroines to fall in love with. What I got was something of a mix. See why below.
What I enjoyed about Sea of Shadows
First off, I love rich atmosphere and unique settings. I could tell immediately that Kelley Armstrong is a seasoned writer and no stranger when it comes to writing paranormal-fantasy. Sea of Shadows creates a world both dark and captivating. One where exciting and strange magic runs through it. The unique setting of the small town of Edgewood, the Forest of the Dead, and imperial court were easily imagined.
There's a blend of fantasy and horror that I really enjoyed. Strange and angry spirits of the dead that need to be appeased, lurk in the Forest of the Dead as well as dangerous creatures know as the Shadow stalkers. I was happily surprised by some very creative and bizarre creatures (the reawakened monsters of legend the book mentions) that also made an appearance in the story as well. They definitely incorporated elements of horror and fantasy that I call wonderful-ick, meaning they scare you and fascinated you at the same time! These little buggers were an Hodge-podge mix of some unique and scary stuff.
As twin sisters, I liked and connected to both Ashyn and Moria. Both are strong heroines in their own way, and both are completely different as Keeper and Seeker. Told from each sister's perspectives, I felt like I was able to get to know them well as the story unfolded. Their strong sister bond never faltered even when separated from each other.
What I was disappointed in while reading Sea of Shadows
The pacing was slow with little happening in the beginning of the book. There was a lengthy journey, often to neighboring towns and through the Forest of Dead and wasteland, with large areas of little or no action. The wonderful details in the world itself helped me to keep turning the pages, but it seemed as if the book was well into 40% of the book before the pace, mystery and action began to pick up.
For all its wonderful atmosphere and unique settings, the world-building and history of Sea of Shadows is somewhat vague in this installment. I do believe though that some of the exciting threads of the story will be further developed in the Age of Legends series. I wanted to know more about the magic used to bring back the creatures of legend, the history behind the empire and the Shadow walkers, and the uniqueness of twins as Keeper and Seeker. The rich history, myth, and magic were all hinted at, and even slightly revealed at some points, but I was hoping for more in this installment.
The romance that each sister was hinted at experiencing was only mildly present in the story. Both Ronan and Gavril, presented possible romantic interests for the girls, but the chemistry wasn't there for me, and felt somewhat lackluster. I wanted to know more about them, and unfortunately along the long journey, very little was revealed about them making it hard to connect to them and see them as romantic interest for Moria and Ashyn.
My Rating: 3 stars. I liked it. Despite some of the disappointments I had in the story, I still feel that this series has some great potential!
PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by HarperCollins in exchange for my fair review. Thank you HarperCollins for the review opportunity!