Title: Dark Shores
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: Dark Shores (Book 1)
Page Length: 384
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Synopsis: 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.
According to Danielle L. Jensen, you can expect:
- A world inspired by Ancient Rome
- LOTS of political intrigue
- A villainous, power-hungry senator bent on conquest
- Slow burn romance (as if I could write a book without kissing!)
- Exciting sea voyages
- Legions engaging in epic battles (on land)
- Meddlesome gods
- Friendship, both new and old
- Family drama
- A fierce heroine who says what she thinks and means what she says
- A brilliant hero with far too many dangerous secrets that are coming back to haunt him
This brilliantly lists all the fantastic elements of Jensen’s series!
The Calendor Empire, which is influenced by Ancient Rome, has taken over the entire Eastern Hemisphere. Now, under the leadership of the dastardly Cassius, they find out about the existence of the Dark Shores and are determined to conquer the Western Hemisphere. The only problem is, they need an easier and quicker way to get there that doesn’t risk the lives of their armies.
Teriana is a fierce protagonist. She lives on the sea, and she knows the secret to getting to the Dark Shores. This makes her very valuable. To save her mother and her crew, Teriana agrees to travel the sea with Marcus, a blackmailed legionnaire, using her knowledge of the vast ocean to reach this unexplored place.
The story switches perspectives from Marcus to Teriana, giving the reader an in depth perspective of the story-line. This type of narration also contributes to the character development, as we can further understand their thoughts, feelings, relationships, and motivations.
Speaking of relationships and motivations, I have to talk about the slow-burning, enemies-to-lovers romance. I admit, I am a sucker for romance, and I enjoyed this aspect of the book. It wasn’t overdone, but it wasn’t too subtle. There was a good buildup (and great chemistry) that left me rooting for the young couple.
The introduction of gods and goddesses is another fascinating element of the story, and reminded me again of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The story includes people who have been “touched” by the gods and, thus, have special powers, god-like beings that live in the sea, persecution against the believers of the gods, and an epic battle between two gods! I have a feeling these mythical beings will become even more significant in the second book and will influence the actions of the characters.
This story is filled with rich detail, and the setting is vivid and strong. The author has created a unique world with exceptional detail, and her knowledge of sailing adds to the setting. Her knowledge of politics, religious discrimination, family dynamics, and human behavior contributes to the complex plot progression and character development.
My only criticism is that the story starts off slow. It took several chapters before I was pulled into the book. That being said, it was totally worth it. This is a unique, well-developed, and action-packed story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t wait to read Dark Skies, the second book in the series. Look for my ARC review of Dark Skies soon! 🙂
- The excellent use of imagery
- The characters. They are defined and complex.
- The social commentary on prejudice, corruption of power, equality, unfair political regimes, and more.
This book will appeal to readers who like young-adult fantasy stories with a vast and unique setting and equally unique characters. Readers who enjoy themes of friendship, equality, and fighting for what you believe in will also like this book.