23 Aug 2021

Audio #Review: DARK SHORES by Danielle L. Jensen

 

DARK SHORES

Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: Dark Shores #1
Source: Purchased from Audible
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: May 17, 2019
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:


Summary:
High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, a thrilling first novel in a fast-paced new YA fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author 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 SAILOR 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.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
If you looked at the cover of this and thought "nice, a cool pirate story," you're in for a surprise. This is an Ancient Rome book - and I'm sure if you've read any reviews of this book, you'd know that by now. But I like going into books without having read anything about them, so it was a Shock to me, to say the least.

However, I really, really enjoyed this one. As I knew I would - Danielle L. Jensen has a style of writing that brings the emotions of the characters to life in a way that not a lot of other authors I've read can. The grit and rawness of the emotions of each of the characters really hit me every time they displayed it on the page. I loved watching these characters grow and expand to be trusting of each other (the best!!!!) in a way that not everyone always is.

I liked a lot of the layered worldbuilding to this - there were elements of Ancient Rome where you can see the amount of effort that went into reading about it and understanding it. The worldbuilding was probably the best part of this novel, if I'm being honest. I could effortlessly and seamlessly enter into the world and understand what was happening, where I was, and what the scenary looked like. Kudos on that!

In terms of characters, I really liked Teriana. She is a person grappling with the enormous guilt for cooperating with an invading enemy and the fallout of this with her people, including her mom. But things get even more complicated when she starts to fall for Marcus, the commanding officer of the Legion assigned to conquer the West.

Marcus is the commander of the Roman Empire-inspired Legion 37. Over the course of his career, he has killed and enslaved thousands of people. We start to see that he didn't have as much choice in the matter as it may seem. He will do whatever it takes to protect his family, and his men, from danger. This was the part that was accurate for the Roman Empire but still made me not enjoy the book as much as I could have otherwise.

But, I found it to drag at some points and I wish there was more to the imperalism. I did like that there were side characters and depictions of gay characters, different skin colours, and a variety of body types, shapes, and ages. However, this was mainly in the side characters and I would have liked more in that sense. And while our main female character was depicted as a woman of colour, it wasn't glaringly obvious that she was anything other than "white."

TLDR: I have the sequel already, so I'm definitely going to read it! I do really enjoyed Jensen's novels and think that she has a unique gift to really have her characters emote on the page. I can't wait to see what comes from the rest of the series and the fallout (and come back together) of our main characters.

Have you read this one? Are you excited for the finale?

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