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Book Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.

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 PIRATE 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.

“They think I’m just the daughter of a merchant captain. They don’t realize that my word carries weight with kings.” – Danielle L. Jensen

Review:


The premise of Dark Shores had me really convinced I would love this book. I loved that it was based off of Ancient Rome and had a diverse cast of characters. Our two main characters are Marcus and Teriana. Marcus is a military prodigy and a legendary commander renowned for his talent for manipulation. Teriana on the other hand is a Maarin (a peaceful sea-trading folk) sailor. Let me also say that I wanted to love this book – truly, I did.

The world consists of two main continents with a vast sea between them. The Maarin believe that East must not meet West no matter the cost. I found the premise of this really interesting, but all in all a little hard to believe. I did, however, really enjoy the idea of the Maarin ships were able to traverse such an expansive ocean in such a timely manner.

“The only thing curtailing the spread of the Empire’s dominion was the Endless Seas and the Senate’s ignorance of anything on the other side worth conquering.” – Danielle L. Jensen

I think my biggest issue with the book was that I didn’t feel a connection to the characters at all. I felt like Teriana was na├»ve and immature while Marcus was drenched in enough self-loathing it would have made Louis de Pointe du Lac (Interview with the Vampire) proud. The critics quoted a “slow-burn love” in the story and I just didn’t get that. I honestly felt like the enemies-to-lovers trope was unbelievable and came out of nowhere. I was way more interested in how Teriana was befriending and humanizing the soldiers than the ridiculous romance.

I feel like this is another book where I’m in the minority with. I understand why a lot of people would like it, but to me it was quite a bit of a letdown. I think the potential was there to be amazing, but the plot fell flat and the characters left no lasting impression on me. Maybe if the book had an extra 100-200 pages of development it would have been able to fix those holes? I don’t know. I doubt I’ll pick up the sequel, but only time will tell.


About the Author:

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy (Angry Robot), the Dark Shores series (Tor Teen), and The Bridge Kingdom series (Audible Originals). She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her family.

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