Monday, April 7, 2014

[Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong]

"Sea of Shadows"
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Age of Legends #1
Pages: 416
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Date Published: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format Read: eARC provided by publisher (via Edelweiss) for honest review


 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.

My Thoughts:

An Open Letter To Sea Of Shadows,

Hey book, yeah I'm talking to you.  You're pretty awesome.  You've got snarky characters and tales of finding yourself and monsters and swoons and adventure.  You've got all the good stuff.  You've even got creepy moments that made my skin crawl and lot's of misplaced limbs and gallons of blood.  I liked it all so much.  Though, like with all good things, there is a catch, your narrative was a bit messy and confusing, but I did finish you and enjoyed the ride getting to the finish line...

-The White Unicorn

Sea of Shadows is the exciting first installment in Kelley Armstrong's newest YA trilogy.  It's a strong start, if not a confusing one.  The story is engaging and the plot is forward moving, but the narrative and switching view points make things more than a little confusing at times.  I'm not sure why things aren't clear at all times, but it's true that at times I found myself wondering who was talking and what was going on.  Armstrong dips into a loose narrative at times and for some reason it's not her strong suit.  Does it mean that the book isn't exciting?  That's not what it means at all, but it just means that this book might baffle you while it entertains you.  But other then this, the book is strong and enjoyable.

Some of the best moments of Sea of Shadows are when the creepy crawly things come out to play.  There is this feeling of menace that follows you through the pages and makes these scenes atmospheric and delightfully freaky.  There are demon possessions, pools of endless blood that will make you think of Tim Burton (at his bloody best, see what I did there?) and lots and lots of rather grizzly deaths.  It was high action which let us know just what Moria and Ashyn were made of.

I enjoyed The Keeper and The Seeker immensely.  They were both well imagined and had separate and distinct personalities.  Moria is harsh and blunt and a female warrior type, where Ashyn is the softer and quieter of the pair, but she's still has the heart of a survivor.  Their relationship with each other was almost as touching as their relationships with their Great Hound and Cat.  Armstrong also does wonders by giving the twins' animals strong, yet silent voices of their own.

The plot, though exciting, doesn't really go very far after Moria and Ashyn get separated and head out on their journey to find safety.  I mean, stuff happens, even some intense stuff happens, but this book isn't incredibly forward moving.  Which is a bit of a bummer.  But we do get some good swoon moments, when each sister falls for a different fellow who protects them.  Ashyn falls for a convicted thief and Moria has a thing for the bad boy guard with the tattoos and the cool hair.  I liked both guys a lot even if they followed some pretty standard archetypes. 

Because of the way that Armstrong writes her trilogies, I can't really talk about the mystery that wraps itself around the book.  By the time the books conclude I'm sure I'll have more thoughts about it, but for now I don't know very much yet.  I do know that even though this book had it's issues, I'm looking forward to seeing what other adventures get thrown at Moria and Ashyn.

  3 Unicorns = I liked it a lot but it had it's issues!


Ashley said...

Confusing and messy narrative... that worries me a bit, it shouts.. "Ashley you have to focus when reading"! Monsters and creep crawly things are intriguing!! I will have to keep my eye out if this one comes to the library.

Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

Kirsty-Marie Jones said...

Glad you enjoyed it more than me, and actually finished it (I didn't get that far, actually I DNF'D it within the first 10%) It seems I'm really not a fan of Kelley Armstrong, and like you said, slow plot, which annoys me. I just didn't seem to have the patience for it. I didn't get to the creepy parts (I might have to go back and skim it just to see.) Great review! :)