I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Age of Legends #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
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.
Let me start this review off by saying that I am a huge Kelley Armstrong fangirl. I have been a fan since I first read Bitten many moons ago. That being said, I don’t think Sea of Shadows will go up there as my favorite Kelley Armstrong book of all time. I liked Sea Shadows well enough, but I didn’t love it. This book had action, good world building, and of course a little kissing. All the things that should make me love it, but it in the end it was just a decent read.
Sea of Shadows is Kelley Armstrong’s first foray into the world of YA high fantasy. I liked her spin on high fantasy with an Asian theme. Much like the way The Grisha trilogy is inspired by Russia. Sea of Shadows is about two young women, twins, which are the Keeper and the Seeker of ancestral spirits in their village. They put the vengeful spirits to rest in the Dead Forest and keep the ancestral spirits in the village appeased. On a night that should have been routine while laying spirits to rest in the Dead Forest, everything goes horribly wrong and the sisters find their whole village gone; and running for their lives through the Dead Forest.
I liked this fantasy world inspired by ancient Asian culture. For me, it was like high fantasy with a Mulan twist. One sister, the Keeper, is blessed with the task of keeping the seeker safe. The other sister, the Seeker, is blessed to communicate with the spirits and lay them to rest. I liked the world of the Dead Forest, full of creatures from nightmares. That is one thing I love about Kelley Armstrong’s writing is that she knows how to make the hairs on my arms rise up. I like the sisters themselves as well. I like that Moria, the keeper, is strong, hot headed, but also vulnerable. I liked that Ashyn, the seeker, is kind, a little naïve, and a romantic. I like that they each have bond beasts which protect them. I like how the beasts are not just pets, but an extension of each girl. Like I said the characters and the world were fascinating.
I guess the part I didn’t like was the third person narration. I think that Kelley Armstrong’s writing, for me, is stronger in first person POV. I don’t know why, but I always feel like when she is writing in third person POV the story becomes more of telling than showing. This story was told from what Ashyn would see and then what Moria would see. It was third person but not omnipresent. It was still like the concept of first person narration in the sense the reader only saw what the two girls saw. So, parts of this book moved a little slow for me and sometimes I had to force myself to go back and pick the book up.
In the end, I am glad I did read and finish Sea of Shadows because I think it has potential. I think that this first book was a lot of buildup and I have hopes that more action and intrigue will follow in the second book. The ending left this book wide open for more kissing, machinations, and of course scary monsters. I give Sea of Shadows three stars because while I don’t want to shout from rooftops I like this book enough to be friends and read more in this world.