Book Reviews

Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

I’ve been seeing Dark Shores around and when Tor Teen agreed to send it to me, I was overjoyed! Blackmail, high seas adventures, and meddling gods?! Count me in! Keep reading my review of Dark Shores to see all my thoughts!


In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.


Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.


Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.


When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: torture

Dark Shores is a story that examines our individual choices. The things, and people, we are willing to sacrifice to protect ourselves. It’s a book that encourages us to look at our role in our story. We can often think we have no options, are backed up against the wall, but is that true? It’s a story about examining the choices we have, the ones we think we don’t, and the ones we invent.


While there’s plenty of action as the Empire’s plans unfold – evolving the book’s exploration of colonialism and conquest – the main focus of Dark Shores, to me, are the characters of Teriana and Marcus. It might just be me, but I got serious Ember in the Ashes vibes here. Maybe it’s just because I read Ember in the Ashes recently, or that I don’t read many military/soldier type books, but Marcus and Teriana reminded me of Elias and Laia. Dark Shores is dual POV, which allows us to see the hidden secrets, but also humanizes Marcus.

My favorite character changed so many times while reading and after finishing, I don’t know anymore! Teriana and Marcus couldn’t be more different. Not only are they natural enemies, they begin on different ends of the spectrum in the way they view their responsibility – which end up being similar. I love when characters, on page, appear to be polar opposites, but discover all these hidden overlaps – like a passion for their people (whether it be their fellow soldiers, or their people). I will say that Marcus’ POV felt more detailed and a bit more developed than Teriana.


I thought Dark Shores was going to be a pirate book, but it’s not. While that was a shock, I enjoyed the world building. It gave me serious Roman vibes, only because of this idea of large scale colonization plus senators and the like. There are some pretty complex decisions made within Dark Shores where I’m still wondering where the lines of ethics, of right and wrong, of mistakes and regret lie. It’s about realizing the impact we could have if we would only reach out and try. It’s also about colonization, the ways choices are never truly just, the ways it weaponizes people, the ways it offers hand shakes concealing betrayal.

Find Dark Shores on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Who is your favorite soldier character?

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