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 thankfully 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.
Beyond a Darkened ShoreFeatured
1.) Historical fantasy worldbuilding: My biggest genre weakness is historical fantasy, and I wish there was so much more of it. Beyond a Darkened Shore goes way back to ancient Ireland and incorporates Irish mythology into the magic and deity system. I love the richness of Ciara's world, the interactions between her and the goddess, and the fascinating complexities of her powers.
2.) Enemies to lovers romance: Ciara and Leif are the classic enemies to lovers romance with HEAPS of delicious tension. They become true equals and complements to the other, and no matter how doomed their relationship seemed, I couldn't help turning the pages as quickly as possible, hoping for some way out of their dilemmas.
3.) Battle scenes: When gods and mythical creatures are involved in conflict, you know the battle scenes need to be epic, and Leake absolutely delivers. The best battle scenes are grounded in high emotion, and at every step, readers are right there with Ciara and Leif knowing what is on the line if they fail. I think my heart was pounding so quickly during the final battle scene that I physically felt exhausted after reading.
4.) Voice: From the very first chapter, I knew I was hooked into Ciara's story, her love for her sisters, her disdain at her other family, and her immense desire to protect her people. She is rough around the edges, extremely brave, and at the same time, terrified of her own potential. Her character arc is tough, just as she is. The author's voice is natural and compelling.