Having never read Beyond the Haunting Sea, I was instantly intrigued by both the cover and the whole idea of bartering with the gods. In Beyond the Shadowed Earth, Eda makes a disastrous deal and she spends the whole book trying to figure out if she fix her mistake.
It has always been Eda’s dream to become empress, no matter the cost. Haunted by her ambition and selfishness, she’s convinced that the only way to achieve her goal is to barter with the gods. But all requests come with a price and Eda bargains away the soul of her best friend in exchange for the crown.
Years later, her hold on the empire begins to crumble and her best friend unexpectedly grows sick and dies. Gnawed by guilt and betrayal, Eda embarks on a harrowing journey to confront the very god who gave her the kingdom in the first place. However, she soon discovers that he’s trapped at the center of an otherworldly labyrinth and that her bargain with him is more complex than she ever could have imagined.
Set in the same universe as Joanna’s debut, Beneath the Haunting Sea, Beyond the Shadowed Earth combines her incredible world building and lush prose with a new, villainous lead.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Unfortunately, I just didn’t click with Beyond the Shadowed Earth. I’ve never read Beyond the Haunted Sea, but you can definitely understand the story without it. Would it have been a more captivating read if I had? I’ll never know. I loved the idea of Beyond the Shadowed Earth. Deals with gods always have disastrous consequences we can never anticipated. And while I felt bad for her, because the things Eda holds dear are being ripped from her, I never really connected with Eda. And that problem stayed the same more or less for the entire book.
I could never really figure out Eda and even though her character goes through some development throughout the book, she doesn’t change enough in a way for me to understand her. Fueled by her own sense of entitlement and revenge, she’s bitter that the gods have taken from her, that she’s done what she can, but it’s not enough. She rages at the gods for never hearing her. But the characters in the book question her and her motives – demonstrating how personal everyone’s relationship with their gods are.
Hate can fuel us, but does it also burn parts of us away? Is Eda still the scared little girl underneath it all? Does her suffering matter more than anything else? Beyond the Shadowed Earth looks at the intersections of gods and stories. What do the gods really want with our lives? A book that looks at faith and revenge, our hope for change and peace. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that everyone is in it for their own good. Even gods.