Thursday, September 24, 2020

Review: Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

*Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Release DateApril 10, 2018

Pages: 435
Source: Audiobook


Vikings meets Frostblood in this romantic historical fantasy stand-alone from author Jessica Leake.
The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.
The people of Mide have always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn but the entire world.
Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle, the two might have a chance to save their world.
With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love...even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.
BUY LINKS: The Lit. Bar    |    Amazon




Her only hope is her greatest enemy.


I learned to hate the sea.


My favorite part of BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE's world-building was the Celtic and Norse elements lent to it. I loved the blend of mythical creatures, the specific terms used, the bloody violence, and the darker tone those elements gave to the story. As for the characters, they were my favorite part -- they were ineresting and well fleshed out. The pacing of the story was on beat with the plot. And the premise! A darker YA fantasy inspired by the perfect blend of Norse and Celtic mythology, war gods, supernatural monsters, forbidden love. How could anyone resist?
I learned to hate the sea. Not because it was unbearably cold, and not because I loathed swimming in its salty depths. I hated it because, in spite of its raw beauty, it brought death to our doorstep.  

Talk about an opening! I had to keep reading --er, listening.

Ciara is a Celtic princess of Mide, who is feared by her people and suffers from a great loss. When the sea washes in the Northmen -- Vikings-- to her home in the ancient land of Éirinn, she must fight her instinct and give up everything to become allies with the very enemy who have taken so much from her, in order to save her kingdom. For there are far greater threats than a mortal enemy.

Together, Ciara and her enemy, Leif, join together to save their lands from immortal cannibal giants. The story is fraught with tension, suspense, action, magic, and a sprinkling of romance as they set on the journey to defeat their common enemies. Through their trials and tribulations, they must learn to overcome their hatred of each other, how to accept love, master their abilities -- Ciara has some kickass magic--, and more.

It drives me wild when the protagonist’s family are shitheads and the BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE was no different. My heart ached for Ciara when her parents — all of them ...— shunned her. When her people shunned her because of her strange powers, even though it kept them and the kingdom safe. *hiss of frustration*

Demon, they called me in their minds. Changeling. Cursed. And every time I took hold of someone's mind, I wondered if perhaps they were right.

BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE didn't have the best romance I’ve read, but it was good. The connection between Leif and Ciara felt genuine. The development of their feelings for one another felt natural as the story progress. The banter between them was witty and gave me the feels. And I did love me some Leif. 

Ciara: “Who knew you Northmen were so delicate?”

Leif: “We’re as fragile as petals.”

I really had a good time with BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE and I recommend it to anyone willing to read it. In fact, I encourage them to.


CIARA: Ciara was fierce, brave, and selfless. She loved her family and her kingdom even though they didn’t love her back.

“We had challenged the gods and won.”

LEIF OLAFSSON: Leif was kind, respected, and accepting of Ciara even though they were born-enemies. He was also a great warrior with unmatched skills, I just wish we could've seen more of his dragon side -- shifter boys are the best.

"Leif was a Northman, an outsider, but he accepted me more than any of my own clan ever had."


  • Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
  • The Beholder by Anna Bright
  • Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller


Once upon a time, Jessica Leake was a psychotherapist, but even though she loved her clients, she couldn’t stop writing.

She wrote and wrote until she got her first book published, and then she wrote some more. In between all that writing she had four beautiful and hilarious children with her husband (best friend and man she’s known since high school; also hilarious), moved back to her adopted hometown of Greenville, SC, built a chicken coop, and got a bunch of chickens that poop breakfast every morning. She also has two dogs to keep the chickens in line. (The dogs made her write that last bit.)
Arcana and The Order of the Eternal Sun are available now, and Beyond a Darkened Shore, her YA debut from HarperTeen will be released in April 10, 2018.

***Check out Jessica Leake's website for more information about her and BEYOND A DARKENED SHOREHERE

Happy Reading!


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