Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Ages of Legends #1
Published by Doubleday Canada on April 8th, 2014
Shelve It: Goodreads
Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn were marked at birth to become the Keeper and the Seeker of Edgewood, beginning with their sixteenth birthday. Trained in fighting and in the secret rites of the spirits, they lead an annual trip into the Forest of the Dead. There, the veil between the living world and the beyond is thinnest, and the girls pay respect to the spirits who have passed.
But this year their trip goes dreadfully wrong.
Ambushed and separated, 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.
*I won a copy of Sea of Shadows from Random House of Canada through Goodreads.
Suspense, danger and a world full of mythological and fantastical creatures, Sea of Shadows was an action-packed page-turner! While it took a few chapters to wrap my head around the lore, and there were a couple plot points that felt unnecessary, overall Sea of Shadows was a heart-pumping and thrilling read!
The opening chapters in Edgewood are haunting, with gruesome scenes detailing violent and bloody deaths, that made me happy to have read Sea of Shadows in the day. They also served to create a suspenseful atmosphere that permeated throughout the rest of Sea of Shadows, as you could never be sure when the next danger might present itself. And while Moria’s bickering with Gavril did wonders to lighten the mood, there was always the threat of an unforeseen danger or a new enemy lurking in the shadows, making Sea of Shadows impossible to put down!
I loved both Moria and Ashyn, for very different reasons. Reckless and feisty, Moria was quick to protect her loved ones, even if it meant putting herself in harm’s way. Blunt and quick to laugh, Moria was the twin most people gravitated towards for her outgoing, if crass, personality. I loved that she wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable when the situation called for it, but that she didn’t let her emotions control her either; she didn’t let anything distract her from her responsibilities to her village. Sensitive and reserved, Ashyn had that same fierce desire to protect her loved ones despite not having Moria’s skills with a dagger. It made her moments of putting herself in harm’s way to protect her loved ones that much more courageous, and I loved that she used her sense of duty towards others to encourage herself to be more selfless; she didn’t hesitate to forfeit her own security, if it meant protecting someone else.
I also really enjoyed the secondary characters. Gavril was an enigma, who I was just beginning to understand by the end of Sea of Shadows. While his initial treatment of Moria was a bit harsh, especially considering I couldn’t figure out why he was being so cruel, her ability to turn his words into a battle of wits quickly became something I found I actively looked forward to. Ronan was as much as an enigma as Gavril, but I found I still didn’t have a good grasp on his characterization or his significance to the plot by the end of Sea of Shadows; if anything, I was as confused as naive Ashyn about his intentions and the role he’s going to play in her life. Tova and Daigo were absolutely fantastic and I loved that they embodied human characteristics, like feigning annoyance or ignoring the twins when they didn’t want to do something, despite being a Hound and a Wildcat, respectively.
As much as I enjoyed the atmosphere and the characters, I also loved Sea of Shadows’ plot. What started out as a mystery quickly evolved into something that involved so much more than I had anticipated! Mythological creatures, like Shadow Walkers and Thunder Hawks, mercenaries for hire, sorcery and political intrigue all combined to make the plot convoluted enough to be interesting, without becoming confusing. There were a couple scenes that seemed slightly unnecessary, like Ashyn’s encounter with Belaset or the twins’ encounter with the Seeker and Keeper of the empire, or scenes that seemed glossed over much too quickly, like what happened with Wenda, but that I have to wonder if they were meant to foreshadow events to come. Overall though, these are fairly minor grievances in light of how much I enjoyed everything else, including a jaw-dropping twist ending that I did NOT see coming!