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.
A few months ago I reviewed the first in Armstrong's hugely successful Women of the Otherworld series, a bit of a first for me as a fully-fledged supernatural romance novel. Having really enjoyed Bitten and having a bit of a soft spot for YA fiction I thought I'd give the first in Armstrong's latest YA series a go.
Sea of Shadows like all of Armstrong's novels has a strong, or should I say two strong, heroines at its centre, Moira and Ashyn are teenage twins faced with the task of protecting their village. I am really enjoying this spate of strong female heroines in YA fantasy at the moment (no doubt helped along by the huge success of Collins' Katniss Everdeen) and Armstrong, one of the first to champion female fantasy heroines in the main stream, does it particularly well.
The book is split between the two sisters points of view and I think that with their contrasting characters at least one will appeal to most readers, whether it be the feisty Moira or the more mellow Ashyn. Having the story split between the twins' point of view you do get to know each character as well as the other, however, each appears to be quite a cliché and fairly one dimensional - hopefully this will improve as the series goes on. It's interesting to note that the male characters, the seeming opposite of one another (mysterious and brooding vs. quick witted and charming) are equally as hackneyed. The long journey aspect of the novel (which does take up most of the plot) does allow for a nice amount of bonding between our characters and their beaus, I particularly enjoyed the humour that was laced throughout the dialogue between the characters and look forward to seeing their development.
Unlike Bitten, Sea of Shadows' pacing is a little slow. I appreciate the fact that this is an introduction to a new series, and I believe a new world for Armstrong, but having read the book not much happens other than the overall introduction. I should say that I did enjoy Sea of Shadows and it was a nice quick read. However, I don't think it lives up to the standard of a lot of YA releases recently, particularly in the fantasy genre - although it is definitely a good introduction and an intriguing story. I must say I do prefer Armstrong's adult series but my interest has been piqued enough in the 'Age of Legends' that I will seek out the second.
ARC received in return for an honest review, Sea of Shadows is out on the 8th April.