Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mini Review: Sea of Shadows - Kelley Armstrong

Release Date: April 8, 2014
Source: Edelweiss
Published by: HarperCollins

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) - Kelley Armstrong | Goodreads

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, 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.


This read to me a bit like a video game or a horror movie. Lots of action, in particular the gruesome scenes in the creepy, creepy Forest of the Dead, with cool legendary monsters (thunder hawks and shadow stalkers and death worms and snow dragons and many, many more mentioned that I suspect we'd get introduced to later) and a fantasy world full of its politics between races and honorary duties and complications (e.g. lots of tribes/clans, discussions of what it means to be a warrior/in different castes). It's also got an easy to identify with premise behind a lot of that action: what if the monsters that you'd once told tales of were actually real? Plus each girl has got her own romance and character arc fitted to their separate responsibilities as Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood. It's easy to at least be empathetic to Moria and Ashyn given the horrors they witness and the way they handle their responsibilities, Ashyn doubting herself with so much at stake (putting to rest all those spirits and having to see what they endured) and Moria promoting herself as this brash, self-confident warrior-girl who loudly demands the respect from all.

Ultimately, however, this novel was not for me. It's got a pretty distant narration style, hence why I said it read like a video game or horror movie. The action is well choreographed and creepy and the novel full of adventure, but because there's this palpable distance, I didn't feel invested in the characters or world. It would be cool to experience this world in another form nonetheless. Sea of Shadows is more of a world-building and action-oriented fantasy novel, and I'd recommend it to those readers first. I can't tell you whether it measures up to other Armstrong novels, as I've only read some of her short stories.

10 comments:

  1. I have enjoyed all the of Armstrong books, but this is the first that I had a hard time with. The plot was where I lost interest. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts on it.

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    1. Ah, so it sounds like this is an isolated incident. Also that's what I've seen on Goodreads, anyway. I hope you continue to enjoy her other works though!

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  2. LOLOLOLOL! You actually managed to do a mini-review :D Good job, Christina! :D Horror movie? Eeeeeh. The only "horror" books I like is Mara Dyer. Idk. I stay away from horror. Creepy is not for me. The story itself doesn't sound bad at all, but I don't think this is for me either. I'm more um.. a fan of character-driven stories so this action-oriented and world-building-oriented story isn't exactly my cup of tea, though I do love me some great worlds and good action. Idk. I'm just not interested in this one in particular. Sorry it wasn't for you either.

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    1. Lol. I have done a few mini reviews :P. There are more coming. If I wrote more on this novel, I would've been talking for no reason. My brain was just blank. I stay away from horror novels too & am a fan of character-driven stories too. Here's to hoping our next reads work out for us then :D.

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  3. This is the second negative review I've read, so this one will be a pass for me. Not connecting with the characters is a huge negative for me. Thanks for the honest review! ~Pam

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Pam! I hope your next read works out for you!

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  4. This does seem to have lots of potential with the action and the setting, but like your experience, I don't think this novel would be for me because I need connection! Distant narration bores me and the characters need to be a must, even more than sympathy. Love the review, Christina, as always :)

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    1. Thanks, Sunny! Shame that it won't work for you, but I hope your next read is wonderful :D.

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  5. I didn't realise this was going to be so creepy, because I was mildly interested in it before reading your review but the scary factor definitely doesn't work for me, so I think I'll not go for this one. I'm sorry you didn't like it too much- there sounds like a lot of information to get a hold of in a short time- and hope your next reed is better!

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    1. Well, it's creepy in the sense that they're performing spiritual rituals in a dark forest when people start dying. If that doesn't work for you still... :/ but I hope your next read is better too!

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