Book Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Posted June 30, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley ArmstrongSea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Genres: Urban Fantasy, YA
Published by Harper Collins, HarperTeen on April 8, 2014
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library


Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn were marked at birth to become the Keeper and the Seeker of Edgewood, beginning with their sixteenth birthday. Trained in fighting and in the secret rites of the spirits, they lead an annual trip into the Forest of the Dead. There, the veil between the living world and the beyond is thinnest, and the girls pay respect to the spirits who have passed.

But this year, their trip goes dreadfully wrong.

With all the heart-stopping romance and action that have made her a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and set in an unforgettably rich and dangerous world, this first epic book in the Age of Legends trilogy will appeal to Kelley Armstrong's legions of fans around the world and win her many new ones.

Also by this author: Omens, Wild Justice, Visions, The Masked Truth, City of the Lost, Forest of Ruin, Betrayals, A Darkness Absolute, Indigo, Rituals, The Unquiet Past, This Fallen Prey, Stolen, Rough Justice, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, Dark Screams: Volume Nine, No Humans Involved,, Waking the Witch, Portents, Missing, Alone in the Wild, Watcher in the Woods, Otherworld Secrets, Wherever She Goes, "The Case of the Half-Demon Spy", "Truth & Consequences", "Territorial", "Escape", "Adventurer", Otherworld Chills, A Stranger in Town, "Bargain", Hex on the Beach, "Recruit", "Checkmate", "Framed", Cursed Luck, High Jinx, Bitten

First in the Age of Legends fantasy series for Young Adults.

My Take
I’m conflicted. I almost put this story down due to the stupid trope that reared up shortly after the tale started. My eyes were rolling so much I was getting dizzy. It was only because it was Kelley Armstrong that I persevered. Fortunately, it did redeem itself much later in the book.

This story is a set-up for the major conflict of one wronged man using horrible means to challenge his betrayer and using their own belief system to frame the story.

It’s a cruel world, one which sets twins up for murder unless they can survive a brutal test. If they pass, the twins become the Keeper and the Seeker, revered beings who protect their territory from the spirits that lurk.

Stupid begins with the governor of Edgewood and his disrespect for what Armstrong is setting up as beings to respect, worship. It continues with Tova trying to protect Ashyn who completely ignores him. He’s not my dog and even I can tell he’s trying to tell her something. And stupid continues back in the village with the lame actions Ashyn and Moria undertake. You’d never believe that they had had any training of any sort. A conclusion that is cemented when Moria’s stupid enough to want to run up to the clomping boots. Duh. And again, duh, when Moria tries to take off in the night with no preparation. She is such a child.

I’m not impressed with Edgewood’s idea of quarantine nor with their military prowess. Then there’s Moria’s interactions with Gavril…*eye roll*… Armstrong is obviously trying to set up an adversarial relationship between Moria and Gavril, and the problem is that it’s way too obvious. Yeah, more eye rolls. Nor is Ashyn any better. She leaps all over Ronan after he helps her out, accusing him of what could well be truth, but he very much deserves. What a bitch. Later Ronan gets back at her with his stupid bit. What is it that writers feel this need to keep information to themselves, from their characters?

”I’m not sure we can trust the emperor to care about the plight of Edgewood’s children when he apparently has so little regard for those of his own city.”

Kind of sounds like Moria who has little regard for the advice of others who have experience in areas where she has none. Unfortunately, there seem to be many areas in which she has no experience.

What is with those guards and the resident Seeker and Keeper at the imperial enclave? Supposedly, Ashyn and Moria are considered reliable as they are the guardians of the deadly Forest, so why would Ellyn doubt their word? Don’t they think that there might be extenuating circumstances as to why Ashyn and Moria are there? That there might truly be a huge problem? Of course, it doesn’t helpt that Moria has no concept of diplomacy.

Oh please. Why should he defend himself from her? She wouldn’t believe him anyway, as she’s always been too fast to judge, uncaring of evidence.

Fortunately, after some 200 pages, the writing gets better with less stupid going on. I was determined that I would not go on to the second installment, that is until I got to the end. Bloody Armstrong went and left that hook at the end, and now I’ll have to read the next story…but if it is stupid in the beginning, I swear I’ll put it down and not finish it.

The Story
There are four pairs of twins, Seeker and Keeper, within the kingdom: two pair roam the kingdom, the third pair is stationed in the nation’s capital, and the fourth pair guard “the most spiritually dangerous place in the empire—Edgewood”. At set times, the Seeker must enter the Forest and find the bodies of those who have perished and capture their souls to give them peace.

But there’s corruption at work, a corruption that leads to the top.

The Characters
Ashyn and Moria are twins, who serve the ancestral spirits. The first is the Seeker, who seeks the spirits of the dead to put their souls at rest; the second is the Keeper who protects her territory from unsettled spirits. Together they serve the community of Edgewood. Tova is Ashyn’s yellow hound, a Hound of the Immortals, and Daigo is Moria’s wildcat, a Wildcat of the Immortals; both are bond-beasts. Their much-loved father is a merchant.

Edgewood villagers
Gavril Kitsune is the son of the disgraced marshal of the Kitsune clan. He has been assigned to guard the forest where his father was sent for execution. Other guards include Faiban, Jonas, Levi, Oswald, Gregor, and Orbec. Healer Mabill. Wenda is one of the children, Quintin is one of the elderly, and Beatrix is one of the women who survived.

Ronan, his father, and his Uncle Cecil have been damned to die within the Forest. Aidra and Jorn are Ronan’s siblings who are now under the care of an aunt

The raiders
Barthol leads them; Fyren is his second-in-command. Liam.

The imperial city
Emperor Tatsu was once Marshal Kitsune’s best friend. Commander Alain is just one of many who welcome Gavril home. Thea and Ellyn are the resident Keeper and Seeker. Prince Tyrus is a bastard son of Tatsu and a friend of Gavril’s. Marshall Mujina is Kitsune’s replacement.

Belaset is a scale-covered girl, captured by raiders. King Machek of Denovoi is the emperor’s enemy.

The Forest of the Dead is on the outskirts of the empire, guarded by Edgewood. The forest is filled with spirits into which the exiled and convicted are thrust. If they survive, they are freed.

The Cover
I love the cover for the depth of its colors: a deep, deep teal of trees with the air surrounding them a lighter value of the teal green and the horror of the story is splashed in your face with a stylized swirl of blood, the same swirl that forms the “o” in the “of” of the title. The title itself is a raised gold foil while the author’s name is in white.

The title is what Ashyn and Moria experience, a Sea of Shadows that taunts and expands.

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