Book Reviews

Review: Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

Gosh, I really wanted to love Beyond a Darkened Shore. Celtic and Norse mythology plus warrior princesses? I wanted to devour this and utter some fierce battle cries. But sadly, I was really underwhelmed.


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


book review Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica LeakeSo the only way I can review this sensibly, is to break it into bullet points of what I liked and didn’t like. For all you list lovers, this review is just up your alley. I have some really turbulent thoughts about this one – mostly because I read this whole thing, and still couldn’t love these characters! (not to mention care at all about the romance aspect in the book)

The Good

  • I will take all the powerful women who are feared and called demons. (Literally this is word for word what my note says). And it’s true. I love when there are ‘monstrous’ women. Women who defy conventions and the box we think they belong in. They defy what we even may think of as women and turn into something else, something ‘monstrous’. When this is done right, I adore it, it’ll catch me like a fish.
  • There’s interesting world building, but mostly because most of it is Norse and Irish mythology. There are a ton of stories to go back on, and there isn’t a lot of need to invent entirely new gods or goddesses. It was cool that these two were intertwined in the story though – like they existed side by side.

The Not So Good

  • I didn’t really care about Ciara or Leif. As people. It wasn’t that they were bad, or evil, it was that they were un-memorable. They felt almost like cardboard tropes. Of course Ciara is motivated by grief and her family and will sacrifice to save those she loves. And of course Leif is this great warrior who has a tormented past and makes him a gentleman whereas every other person is like a monster. (Seriously. I get that chivalry is dead and they’re supposed to be more ‘lawless’ but really? He’s the only one who cares about not only women, but like people in general?)
  • I didn’t understand the relationship between Ciara and Leif. It seemed too planned out. Like we’ve both lost something, so we were enemies, but now we’re kind of cool? Or we both went through some awful almost supernatural stuff together and so now we trust each other? I want more. There has to be more to sustain a friendship. I get trust and even alliances, but more than that is a stretch to me. Which may just be because that is so not how I operate. I’ll call you a friend if we go through some awful stuff together, but we have to share some pretty intense deep conversations and a test of time to really make you my BFF.


  • Is it just me or are people also tired of this single minded quest for revenge? Revenge is like a hot stone and it just burns you and leaves you hollow. I get that it’s used as a motivator. And it’s universal. But I just need something more as well.
  • The way that desire was dealt with was not cool to me. It was very much, “you’re so beautiful and I want you, but I can’t, so what are you doing to me??”, a whole I-burn-for-you kind of thing. Like really. This is the biggest problem that is killing you? Not the war or these random forces? Also is this supposed to be a compliment? I know I know, am I considering the ‘time period’ of the book?

Can you tell I had some intense turbulent thoughts about this one? I guess I just wanted more from this book as a whole.

You can find Beyond a Darkened Shore on Goodreads.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

  1. Wow. I understand more about this book now and am disappointed that the characters were not memorable or stood out enough. This is so important to me in the books I read. I also am not too excited about the revenge thing. I stopped reading a book recently because the single-mindedness of getting revenge on another character just got soooo annoying.

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