Monday, April 25, 2022

Review: River of Shadows by Karina Halle

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

Publisher Karina Halle
Release Date: January 27th 2022 
Pages: 354
Source: Paperback 


River of Shadows is an adult dark fantasy romance based on Finnish mythology and the underworld of Tuonela.

When 24-year old Hanna Heikkinen's estranged father dies, she reluctantly makes the trip to Northern Finland for his funeral. Being in the enchanting land of ice and snow feels miles away from Hanna's busy life back in Los Angeles, especially under the complicated circumstances.

But when Hanna discovers that her father's body is missing, that's when things really get weird. A mysterious man, Rasmus, tells Hanna the truth: her father was a powerful shaman who went into Tuonela, the Realm of the Dead, in order to barter for more life, and has been held captive by Tuoni, the God of Death. The only way her father can be freed is if she travels with Rasmus into the mythical underworld to rescue him.

Willing to do anything to have a second-chance with her father, Hanna accompanies Rasmus into the dark and bloody realm, traveling via the River of Shadows, stalked by dangerous creatures, monsters, and the living dead, until they finally come into the haunted kingdom ruled by Death and his family.

Only for her to be captured and held prisoner by the God of Death himself.

Turns out Death is intrigued by Hanna's beauty and fierceness and makes a bargain with her. If she marries him, and spends an eternity in the Realm of the Dead as his wife, he'll set her father free.

But even the most noble sacrifices come with hidden costs, and Hanna's might involve the most unexpected of all things: her heart. 
BUY LINKS: Goodreads




"We come from the land of ice and snow, where the midnight sun and the hot springs flow," Robert Plant sings through my noise-canceling headphones as the plane begins its descent.


This was my first read by Karina Hale. Although I’ve been following her for years on Instagram and always wanted to read a book written by her this one finally caught my attention because it has Hades and Persephone vibes and if you know anything about me I love Hades and Persephone retellings. Moreover, the premise sounded really interesting.


The story centers around Hanna, a young social media manager whose father suddenly dies. On the first plane to his home in northern Finland, she discovers her father was more than what he led her to be. He was a powerful shaman who was dying of cancer. Wanting more time to spend with his daughter he descends into the Underworld to make a bargain with the God of Death in order to cure his cancer. Trouble is: he never returned. And there were two other evil shamans who didn't want Hanna to save him. But that didn't stop Hanna because she would do and give anything to save her father's life.

Including selling herself to the God of Death to do whatever she so pleased with her.


However, fair warning, the beginning was pretty slow for me and it was a little boring. Some plot points were random I thought but I still wanted to know how it was going to turn out. I wanted to meet the God of Death and see what the dynamic between him and Hanna would be like. When we finally met the God of Death, to be honest, he is a huge dick not just literally but figuratively speaking. He was a jerk and based on how feisty and strong Hanna is at the beginning of the book I honestly thought she would’ve given more of a fight against him. I thought it would be a little spicier between them in the power struggle sense. More Death being like do this and Hanna like no! That was definitely a missed opportunity there but the sex? The sex scenes were chef's kiss and I honestly wish there were more of them. And maybe kinkier because it seems like the God of Death depicted in RIVER OF SHADOWS would have his kind.

𝐸𝓃𝒹𝒾𝓃𝑔 & 𝒫𝒢𝓇𝓉𝒾𝓃𝑔 π’―π’½π‘œπ“Šπ‘”π’½π“‰π“ˆ:

The ending? Prepare. It was a cliffhanger ending. I can't wait to see what’s gonna go on in the next book the sequel CROWN OF CRIMSON. I love that at the end of RIVER OF SHADOWS we had a chapter from Death’s point of view it was interesting to see things from his perspective


Karina Halle is a screenwriter, a former music & travel journalist, and the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of The Pact, A Nordic King, and Sins & Needles, as well as sixty other wild and romantic reads.

She, her musician husband, and their adopted pit bull, Bruce, live in a rainforest on an island off the coast of British Columbia during the summer, and in Los Angeles in the winter. For more information, visit

Halle is represented by Root Literary and is both self-published, and published by Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin, and Montlake. Her books have been published in numerous languages around the world.

Karina isn't on Goodreads and does NOT check her messages here - please contact her via Instagram (@authorhalle) instead :)

Happy Reading!



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