October 20, 2020

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Going In With High Expectations Often Sets-Up Disappointment. Danielle Jensen Said, Here Hold My Book. Dark Skies Released 5/5

Danielle Jensen returns to the world of Dark Shores with the stand alone Dark Skies. Expanding on the world and characters, Jensen again demonstrates her ability to illustrate a multitude of landscapes, dynamic characters and complicated themes.

Interview with Danielle Jensen coming next week!

There might be spoilers for Dark Shores below but possibly not– I’m not sure but just in case– this is the disclaimer!


Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) By Danielle Jensen Stand-Alone Explained

Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) by Danielle Jensen is a special kind of stand-alone sequel return to the world started in Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1). Another example of stand-alone sequels is The Book of Ambha by Tasha Suri. Realm of Ash (The Books of Ambha #2) is the stand-alone sequel to Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1). Realm of Ash starts shortly after Empire of Sand ends. Both books take place in the same worlds, with familiar character crossover. Either book can be read alone or in sequence. They are both incredible books.

While both series are similar in that either book can be read first, there is a striking difference. Jensen put a brilliant twist on the timeline. She ditched the traditional timeline between book one and book two. Rather than setting Dark Skies just after Dark Shores ended. She wrote their timelines parallel to each other. Easily put, rather than Dark Shores running from 2000-2001, and Dark Skies from 2001-2002, they both run from 2001-2002.

This should allow readers to follow the story lines in each book simultaneously, no matter which is read first. In doing so, I would argue that Jensen has gone a step further in providing readers greater ease and enjoyment in choosing which book to read first, while also providing her a sea of creative possibilities as the series progresses. Rather than painting herself into a corner.

Whether intentional or not? It provides a backwards, intrinsic way to revisit key plot points from Dark Shores is naturally built in for those who read Dark Shores a year or more ago, without slowing it down in the slightest (also providing those events in more depth and from a different point of view).


Oh, The Places You’ll Go

Look. I can follow a map. I don’t even mean like GPS on the phone. Like off the beaten trail, back roads, let me run into some alpacas and llamas, kind of maps. Ms. Jensen? She has whole worlds and maps in her mind that I just don’t understand. I imagine she doesn’t paint her walls because she just writes all over them. Drawing maps and provinces, and landscapes. Maybe, we should just all chip-in and buy the woman an etch-a-sketch.  At some point, she is going to become THAT meme, if she hasn’t already.It's All Connected

Astonishingly, starting in Dark Shores and continuing to the expanded world in Dark Skies? Nothing becomes watered down. Jensen just keeps on rolling with it. The creative well has no end in sight. Each time we are transported to a new place it jumps off the page and comes alive. This isn’t just accomplished through what you pictured in the mind. The atmosphere and the people that inhabit each place. Hell, I could feel the humid heat in Celendrial one minute and the freezing, gusting winds of Mudamora, the next (without the “taking twenty pages to describe a tree” syndrome). Jensen sucks in all five senses to truly immerse you in each place visited. And it is astonishing.

The blight and deimos function as characters, and settings. They solidify the creepy atmosphere in Mudamora, infuse terror in its citizens and demonstrate the humanity being fought off. Jensen utilizes them to present an infiltration of the land and each person it infects or attacks.

The Corrupter/ed led by Rufina escalates to a climactic battle that busted off the page cinematically. You remember what that feels like? Going to the movies?


Lone Wolf Section

Remember I said this: I will die on this hill.

In my review of Dark Shores, I commented on how much depth the lead and secondary characters had, right from the beginning. This remains true for Dark Skies. It isn’t just cross-over characters that have a heavy presence that feels multi-layered. New lead and secondary characters are dynamic, and messy. They face cruel situations in the moment. Long-term, they know that the mess coming their way in the long term will be 2020 levels of mess. It is coming with a quickness. You are gut punched for them and all those that surround them, right off the bat.

Killian. Oh, Killian. His character arc is just a mess. Don’t take that to mean it is written poorly. I mean he is the cinnamon roll and you will root for him. It isn’t even that he does stupid things that you want to slap him for. It is more that no matter what he does? The odds are forever not stacked in his favor. Feed the poor at night, get past the political games he hates, ignore everyone who says he’s a disappointment, try to save a country and the hits keep coming.

He isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. The boy has demons as destructive as the blight tearing through Mudamora. He is fighting them, for everything he is worth and trying to make them right and do the right thing. People need to get out of his way. It is a dark and lonely road he has to walk. Keep him company, will you?

Lydia. It is harder to talk about Lydia without spilling all the tea. Her character arc is just all of the things. All Lydia knows is that at the start of Dark Skies? She knows nothing. Where does she belong? Who is she? What is her purpose?

John Snow

This is her journey and her character ARC. It is often one step forward and two steps back, which is frustrating. Her strength is her ability to keep going. Rarely does Lydia have a choice where there is an obvious right answer. Throughout Dark Skies she is being ripped in half between two choices. Until she finds her answers to the questions above? It will be a heartbreaking journey.

Princess Malahi– Remember when I said I would die on this hill? I’m good being the Lone Wolf. Malahi is my favorite character in Dark Skies. If you haven’t read Dark Skies, yet? Remember I said this and when you do read Dark Skies? Come back and talk to me. If you have read it? Come at me. It is cool. This is a testament to Jensen’s writing. There is not one character no that isn’t true. Purely evil and good characters exist. There are mostly flawed characters in Dark Skies and Malahi is one of them. I would have like to see a few chapters from her point of view. I will say no more.

The princess’ guard- AH! I love them all. What a fun bunch of strong, trained warriors. The stories their backgrounds represented, that you could start from nothing and become one of the royal guard. They were a sisterhood and they had Princess Malahi’s back and each other’s back.


Themes

Like Dark Shores there are some incredibly heartbreaking themes that tear your heart to shreds. Lydia, Killian, Princess Malahai, and others are forced to make excruciating and impossible decisions throughout Dark Skies. If you are familiar with the plot of Dark Shores and the torture that Marcus and Teriana went through with the decisions, they had to make? This ups the ante, tenfold.

Dark Skies By Danielle Jensen

Thank you to Tor Teen for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Trusting your gut is a huge theme throughout Dark Skies, with the main characters but especially with Killian. Right from the beginning of the book, he ignores his gut and it starts a chain of events. Killian’s gut screams at him, throughout the book and he is either overruled by outside influences, or he talks himself out of it. Then, it goes spectacularly wrong. Learning to trust your gut is a huge point of contention for Killian and Lydia, along with others. Whether or not they ever do and what happens? Read the book.

Figuring out what your purpose is, place is, and who you are? That isn’t just Lydia’s struggle.  It is the most blatant in Lydia’s story. Others are dealing with it as well. Some need to figure out how to do what is truly right versus what is righteous, which is not always the same. Something I think I learned through these story lines, and maybe the characters did, as well? Just because something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck? That doesn’t mean it is a duck. It could be a shapeshifter (there aren’t any shapeshifters or ducks for that matter in Dark Skies. I’m just making a metaphor up).


What Now?

That is the million-dollar question. There are conversations between Lydia and characters from Dark Shores, and many revelations come to light. Details that as readers we knew would have devastating consequences on Teriana and Marcus. Whether or not that all merges together in the next book? We don’t know. There are now have three huge stories going on.

  1. Marcus/Teriana are still hanging on to dear life with the 7th God on the other side of the Dark Shores.
  2. The mess formally known as Celendrial.
  3. Lydia is on the road.
  4. Killian has been reassigned to help rebuild Mudamora, which *technically* only has an interim king

Aye! Whatever comes next? I’m sure Jensen will bring it brilliantly!

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