ARC Review: Gilded Serpent by Danielle L. Jensen

Title: Gilded Serpent

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Series: Dark Shores (Book 3)

Page Length: 576

Publication Date: April 27, 2021

Publisher: Tor Teen

Synopsis: From bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen comes a thrilling new novel in the Dark Shores world, a series that Sarah J. Maas called “everything I look for in a fantasy novel.”


Lydia returns to Mudaire to enter training at the healing temple. But instead of fighting to save lives, she’s convinced she is doing more harm than good. She delves into the history of the gods only to discover a truth that will change her life forever.

His birthright as commander of the Royal Army is finally in his grasp, but Killian feels anything but victorious. Burdened by his past, he embraces the darker side of his mark—and in doing so, risks starting a war.


Having defeated the tyrant Urcon, Marcus struggles to form a lasting alliance with the Arinoquians. But he is plagued by the knowledge that there is a traitor among his friends, and it could cost him everything that he’s fought for.

Torn between her growing allegiance to the Thirty-Seventh legion and her need to liberate her people, Teriana finds herself mired in a web of secrets. She embarks upon a path that will either save everyone she loves—or put them all in their graves.

LINKS:     Goodreads     |      Amazon     |     Book Depository

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My Review:

Gilded Serpent is a phenomenal addition to the Dark Shores series! I love the Roman gladiator vibes, the love stories, the varied and immersive settings, the fantastical elements, the non-stop action, and Jensen’s writing style, which pulls you in from the first page. Told from all four main characters’ points of view, we get Teriana, Lydia, Marcus, and Killian’s perspectives throughout the story.

Teriana, Marcus, Lydia, and Killian are richly developed characters, and their stories are complex and complicated. I loved their different perspectives and how Jensen weaves their journeys together into one fluid, layered, and captivating story. Plus, the romances are wonderful, slow-burning, angst-filled swoon-tasticness!

The romance between Teriana and Marcus is perfection! This enemies-to-lovers pair is absolutely swoon-worthy and has amazing chemistry, witty banter, and wonderfully romantic scenes. Their experiences in this story definitely brought them even closer, and as they let their guards down, their bond grows even stronger. I loved their love story and how they support and help each other. The way they hold each other up and work together shows how connected they are. This pair went through so much in the story, yet their strength and their love felt unwavering. I love that Marcus reveals more of his vulnerable side and lets Teriana see behind his tough and unemotional exterior.

“If the story of your life were a book, I’d carry it with me across the world. I’d read it every night. And whenever I reached the ending of what had been shared with me, I’d open it to the first page and begin reading again.”

Teriana’s eyes burned and she blinked rapidly. “It would be a very heavy book. I’ve had a very interesting life.”

“It would be worth it.” He crossed back, hands curving around the sides of her face as he bent to kiss her forehead. “Everything you tell me is a gift.”

I found Marcus’s personal journey fascinating. As he faces betrayal among his men and is exposed to some of the harsher realities of politics and war, Marcus begins to question his role and his leadership. While coming to terms with his actions, Marcus also recognizes the political and military influence that guided him. He is a good man who is starts to question whether he is on the right side of the fight. There are interesting and thought-provoking concepts about good and evil, overcoming obstacles, moral responsibilities, choice, and personal change/growth in Marcus and Teriana’s story.

Killian and Lydia have many obstacles to overcome as well. They are so in love with each other, and their story is filled with angst, as too much stands in their way. They struggle to communicate and speak to each other about their feelings, and they are conflicted between their love for each other and long-standing duties and oaths. I am so rooting for this couple, but like Marcus and Teriana, Lydia and Killian’s eventual pairing seems impossible.

“I am yours.” His voice was rough. “From the moment you walked into my life, my heart, my soul, belonged to you…every moment I’ve spent with you has felt right…I love you.” His eyes searched her. “More than life. More than duty, and more than honor.”

All four characters face difficult choices and obstacles which could tear them apart, and it seems like there is no way for them to be together. However, I’m still hoping for their happily-ever-after. I can’t wait to see where their journeys take them in the next book, especially after that ending!!

In addition to the four main characters, there’s another who really stood out – Agrippa! What a fascinating, confusing, greedy, honorable, treacherous, brave man. I’m so intrigued by this complex character! Talk about morally grey – Agrippa’s motives are so unclear, and just when you think you have him figured out, he does something so out of character that it makes you question everything he did before.

I think it will be in the absence of light that we all see who we truly are.

With tons of intense action and nail-biting scenes, this is one suspenseful read! From surviving under extreme circumstances, traversing river rapids in enemy territory, trying to evade murderous wolves, and not falling prey to the manipulations of those in power, there is never a dull moment for our four main characters! I love the constant twists and turns, the unexpected revelations, the unfathomable obstacles, and the fantastical elements. It all adds so much intrigue to the story.

If you like fantasies with immersive and vivid world-building, gripping stories, richly developed characters, and tons of suspense and intrigue, then you should read the Dark Shores series. Thanks so much to Netgalley, Tor Teen, and Danielle L. Jensen for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romances! I’m a sucker for a swoon-worthy romance, and this story has two!
  • The action and suspense! This book had me at the edge of my seat with so many intense scenes.
  • The intriguing minor characters. Yes, I’m talking about you, Agrippa!!

Favorite Lines:

He valued her voice too much to ever want it silenced.

Have you ever wondered what you would achieve if you fought for something you believed in?

To be good does not mean to be without flaw, for even the best of us are riddled with them. To be good is to recognize the darkness in one’s character and strive to remedy it.


Want to learn more about the series? Check out my reviews of the first two books, Dark Shores and Dark Skies! These can be read in either order.

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