Title: Dark Shores
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: Dark Shores #1
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for Fans of: Game of Thrones, An Ember in the Ashes, Throne of Glass
High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, a thrilling first novel in a fast-paced new YA fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen.
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.
I actually read the first two books of this series out of order because they are written so that you can start with either Dark Shores or Dark Skies, which take place at the same time following different characters, before the two plots converge in the upcoming Gilded Serpent. I didn’t love this as much as I loved Dark Skies, but it was still really really good.
Danielle L. Jensen is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine for her epic fantasies, large-scale world building, complex characters, and forbidden romances. It took me awhile to feel the slow burning chemistry Teriana and Marcus, but they were great foils for each other, with both willing to make sacrifices and do unforgivable things to protect the people they care about.
I loved the Roman Empire influence, which served the epic scale of this fantasy (Dark Skies has more of a medieval feel). I think this series is comparable to Game of Thrones for a YA audience, but at the same time it doesn’t feel too YA to me because of the complexity, maturity, and strength of the characters.
I struggled a bit with the pacing in this book; some sections felt slow while others felt rushed. I thought the ending was abrupt, and I wish the traitor’s identity had been revealed in this book. However, this book is absolutely worth the read. I love what Jensen does with this world in Dark Skies (an easy 5-star book for me), and I cannot wait to see what happens when the two storylines come together in book 3!
Check out my review of Dark Skies for even more reasons to read this series!