The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Beyond A Darkened Shore
Author: Jessica Leake
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Page Count: 435
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Cover Artist: -
My Rating: ★★★★
I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this influence my rating or review.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: War, Death, Mentions of Slavery, Attempted Sexual Assault
”We have nothing to fear, lads. Not with Princess Ciara leading us.” He meant it ironically, of course—I was the one they feared.
Celtic and Norse mythology collide in this atmospheric fantasy. I find it rare that gods of competing mythology actually ever intertwine in their stories. Not just that, but intertwine mythology with Christianity (although I have been seeing more and more of this recently). It is this element which gave Beyond A Darkened Shore such an interesting perspective. Set in Ireland in 1035 AD, the once pagan realm has forgotten the old deities and replaced them anew—all except for the strongest of them.
Ciara, Princess of Mide, is no stranger to the incredible. Born with special abilities that allow her power over others minds, she is an unparalleled asset on the battlefield. Her abilities, however, have ostracized her from many, including her father, and the church. Feared by her comrades, Ciara still valiantly fights against the Viking invaders who frequently ransack their kingdom, and who have taken so much from her.
The raven has long been Ciara’s friend and ally, warning her of winds carrying the raiders to their shores. When she encounters a band of raiders, to her dismay, she comes across a man that doesn’t succumb to her mental manipulations. Succeeding in taking him captive, she learns that due to a bargain with other ethereal beings, he too, has unusual abilities. When circumstances push the two together, Ciara and Leif realize that there is a much larger opponent to both of their peoples. Only working together will rid the world of the threat descending upon their lands.
For good measure, I really liked how the different gods were represented throughout this book. The most prevalent was the Morrigan, which means “phantom queen.” Representing war, fate, death, and destiny, her role is deeply seeded with the paths of Ciara and Leif. Many members of the Tuatha Dè Danann make appearances throughout the entire plot, including some from Norse mythology.
I found the little “jabs” from one culture to another comical—like the fact that Ciara named her horse Sleipnir after the fabled eight-legged Norse horse as a slight towards her clan’s main enemy. It’s only comical because these intents are made out of ignorance. Slights towards others are never actually a good thing–as they are mainly borne from assumption and prejudice. One beautiful point that this author factored in the story was overcoming prejudice. It’s very easy to only see life and experiences from our own perspective. When an opportunity arises to see life from a different angle, one will find that their viewpoint is distorted to what one knows and is familiar with. Ciara especially learns this when she gets to know Leif on a deeper level.
The “enemies-to-lovers” trope is an obvious one between Ciara and Leif, but I think it fit well. While I thought their romance was somewhat forced into existence at times, I didn’t mind it, and felt that it fit the theme of this story very well.
I really enjoyed Beyond A Darkened Shore and think that it is quite underrated. If you love mythology, magic, historical fiction, and likeable characters, give this book a shot!
Sexual content: Minimal.
Violence: Moderate – war is a very common theme throughout the entire story.
My Rating: ★★★★