I think this is meant to be a high fantasy? It…felt like that…to me…?? As you can tell, I am really good at this genre lark. Anyway, Sea of Shadows kicks off Kelley Armstrong’s new YA Age of Legends series. I love Kelley Armstrong (as evidenced by my frequent emotional breakdowns over her Women of the Otherworld series as well as her Darkest Powers YA trilogy) but Sea of Shadows is basically just okay – it’s not fantastic, which I generally expect from her at this point, but it wasn’t terrible either.
The book follows in the vein of most high fantasies; it’s set in a vaguely olden time world and is filled with characters that have strange abilities and odd appearances. Add in a land with strange and dangerous places and we have a novel which ticks off all the basic requirements for classical fantasy. Our main characters are twin sisters, a rare phenomenon in this world because of terrible, terrible reasons, each with their own unique abilities that mark them out as important. Moria, badass teenage beauty queen who has no time for men outside of making out with them (a girl after my own heart t b h), is a Keeper, and her sister Ashyn, quiet, shy and moral, is the Seeker. Together they keep the dead from converging on their village. They do this by going out into the forest at the edge of their village and performing a ritual to send the tormented souls on their way. Basically this is what I imagined Ashyn to be like all the way through this novel:
So why do they need to do the thing? Why, because only the worst criminals in the kingdom are sent to the forest at the edge of their village to die! What a GOOD system, I hear you cry. And that brings us to our next two main characters, Ronan and Gavril. Ronan, sent to the forest because of reasons and found by Ashyn, and Gavril, a warrior class mystery man who accompanies Moria on her adventures. This is what I really like about Kelley Armstrong – if nothing else, the lady can write some gooooood relationships. The two relationships are so different and yet so delightful; I love it so. Like with her Darkest Powers trilogy, Armstrong focuses on developing the relationships naturally and never at the expense of the girls – they are the focus of the story and she never forgets that or allows them to be overshadowed by their love interests.
The plot, however, isn’t as great as the character and relationship development unfortunately. I have to say I found the beginning very slow and it dragged in parts until the characters were on the road. I enjoyed the different places they passed through and the dangers they faced (I want a Thunder Bird tbh) and it ends with quite a clever, although not entirely unpredictable cliffhanger. That being said the plot in this first novel serves almost entirely to set up the rest of the series, I think, and it reads like it. There’s a huge amount of infodumping and not a whole lot else tbh.
Ultimately I can say after finishing this novel that I will probably be reading the next book in the series but it won’t be because I’m interested in the plot. It’s the four characters that drew me in and it’s them and their relationships with each other that I’ll be going back for.