Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

 
Published: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: Harper Colllins
Pages: 416
Copy: Edelweis
Summary: Goodreads


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


Sea of Shadows is told through the eyes of 2 girls, Moria and Ashyn.  Identical twins, they are so alike yet so different in temperament.  Moria is fierce, fearless and intensely loyal .  Ashyn is gentler and less self assured, but no less loyal than her sister.  The are bonded to animals - Moria to Daigo - a large cat, and Ashyn to Tova, a hound.  The girls are the Keeper and Seeker and are charged with keeping their village safe at the edge of a wood where the souls of the damned take shelter.

Without giving away too much of the story, Moria pairs up with Gavril - a young warrior whose father has been exiled - and Ashyn with Ronan - a young thief, exiled for the sins of his father and uncle.  I adored the slow bonding of these two pairs.  They are sceptical and unwilling to bend, but circumstances cause them to accept each other, willingly or otherwise. Layers are peeled away slowly and relationships are formed with no instances of insta-love or unreasonable infatuation.  In other words, it felt real.

The oriental background to the story lays the groundwork for filial obedience and causes quite a twist at the end of the story, which I will admit I didn't see coming.  In hindsight, I guess I should have seen it, but I was too wrapped up in just enjoying the characters and the world building. The inclusion of some incredible monsters was a nice touch as well.  I was about 3/4 of the way through when I finally accepted that there was way too much going on for this to be a stand-alone novel, and while I'm mad that I'm going to have to wait, I'll be very happy to revisit this world and see what happens.

A wonderfully exciting and tense fantasy with engaging characters and believable world building, this one is a pleasure to recommend.

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