ARC Review: Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

Warnings: starvation, fantasy violence, war

The second book in the Dark Shores series brings us Lydia’s story, running parallel to the events of the first book. Lydia, who was to marry Lucius Cassius, is instead the catalyst to the discovery of the Dark shores by the latter; he tries to have her killed via Marcus, but instead she escapes via an unknown xenthier crystal stem and reaches Mudamora. The other PoV is from Killian, a lord of the one twelves houses of Mudamora, and a Marked warrior of Tremon, which makes him important to the country’s defenses. However, when he fails to stop an invasion at the border, he is stripped of his duties and instead forced to swear himself to the princess’ guard. As war rages through Mudamora and threatens to reach its capital, Mudaire, Killian finds himself stuck in the politics between the houses.

Lydia’s entry into a kingdom where all Marked are conscripted into service wouldn’t be as dangerous as if she hadn’t herself been marked as a healer when she tries to save Killian’s life. Now a useful ally in detecting the Corrupted, he offers her a place in the princess’ guard, a group made entirely of women, save for him as their captain. Lydia has to keep a low profile and not be caught as a healer to be taken into conscription, until she can find a way out of the closed city and back to Celendrial shores to save Teriana, but as we know from the first book, her urgency is sort of wasted since Teriana is already on the Dark shores. As she helps Killian and trains under him, they sort of become close, but Killian himself is bound by his duty and is too honorable to shirk it. Additionally, both of them have guilt for something bad happening because of their choices, so they both cling more to the things they have to do, which I found a refreshing concept, if a bit frustrating because the ship can’t fully sail.

The plot is heavily focused on the war between the Corrupted and Mudamora, and the political situation in Mudamora as a result. The princess Malahi wants to dethrone her father for incompetence and make herself Queen, but she needs the support of the other houses. Killian’s older brother, who is the High Lord of their house, is also playing games, and Killian is piece on the board for the both of them. The intrigue is wholly entertaining, to see what would come out of the machinations between the king, the princess and the lords. The city, meanwhile is starving, with supply routes disrupted, and as the blight spreads further inward, their situation becomes dire. That is to say, most of the important plot points actually happen in Killian’s PoV, and he has a bigger role to play in the storyline. On the other hand, Lydia’s doesn’t feel that important of a role in this book, because firstly she has only stepped into this mess accidentally and most of her actions are to help Killian rather that develop her own story; while she still narrates some important parts, eventually it feels like she didn’t have much to do in the story. I hope that changes in the next installment, as the two of them once again go on diverging paths.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Tor Books, via Netgalley.

Previous books in the Dark Shores series

Dark Shores (Dark Shores, #1)

View all my reviews

Buy links

The Book Depository | Wordery

Released on May 5, 2020

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