Danielle Jensen’s new fantasy series Dark Shores has no right being the first book in a new series. It just doesn’t feel like the first book in a series. It is rip-roaring adventure that grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go.
Thank you to NetGalley and TorTeen for an ARC in exchange for an Honest Review
Two worlds are built simultaneously and fluidly, but it never feels like it. The ancient Rome inspired Celendrial and the pirate ship Quincense. Within those worlds, a multitude of landscapes and provinces are built out as they visited. All are done brilliantly, brought to life throughout the story without ever feeling like an info dump.
Simultaneously, the people and characters that inhabit each (the pagan Cel people from Celendrial and polytheistic Maarin Pirates that inhabit the Quincense) have the kind of depth that breathes life into a story. Jensen is able to not just introduce but develops main and many secondary characters that have true story arcs and again, it is the first book in the series. A first book doesn’t have a right to be this good, this quickly.
Multiple storylines take shape and take off at breakneck speed without sacrificing relevance, context or reader buy-in. Everything that happens initially has a domino effect throughout the story within the first book and continuing consequences throughout the series.
Dark Shores is told through the point of view of main characters’ Teriana and Marcus. Both hold numerous secrets and conduct acts to protect their people and brethren. Soon they realize that while considering each other enemies, the morally grey ground they stand on to save those they consider family, gives them more in common then they think.
As these acts and secrets are revealed the two become closer with each other, and unwittingly those around them. They form alliances with people they never would have expected to protect originally planned, and others they never would have originally considered. Still by the end of the book all is still not what it seems.
Even though there are the two points of view, there is an element of an omniscient narrator that gives the readers information and insight that characters don’t have. So, while the Dark Shores ends on one obvious cliffhanger, it also sits on a ticking time bomb that only the readers know. Other secondary story lines loom in the distance for later exploration.
The addition and creation of seven Gods never muddles the story, characters or worlds that are shaped. Instead the dramatic intensity provided by the Gods is shattering. A battle for the ages amidst the ocean as they confront each other for the right to sink or save the Quincense’s attempt to cross from east to west had me holding my breath. Meanwhile, the revelation of an army general led by the seventh, most treacherous God, provides an additional layer of danger that will touch every character.
Dark Shores is a thrilling, rollicking read that will leave everyone desperate for more.