Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Sea of ShadowsAge of Legends book 1

A review by Nalini Haynes

ISBN: 9780751547818
Publisher: Atom (Hachette)
Format: Paperback, 406 pages

Sea of Shadows is Japanese legend crossed with fantasy, horror and romance aimed at a YA (Young Adult) market but eminently readable by all ages. Multicultural medieval ‘Japan’, a Japan not surrounded by water, has caste issues and racial prejudice more than gendered issues in this story.

Moria (not the mine) and Ashyn are 16-year-old twins. Moria is the Keeper of the Forest, working with her giant cat Daigo to protect the village that stands at the entrance to the Forest of the Dead where exiles are sent to die. Ashyn is the Seeker, working with her hound Tova to seek out corpses in the Forest in order to lay to rest their vengeful spirits. Ronan is the cute exile sent to die but saved by Moria’s gift of a dagger.

We won’t think about what he ate to survive for 4 months. Seriously.

Tonight the spirits aren’t being laid to rest. Tonight unwary warriors are dragged, screaming, from the Seeker’s protection. Tonight blood drips from the trees.

Moria rushes to her sister’s aid. Gavril Kitsune, a warrior sent to guard the village, accompanies Moria into the forest. He’s 18 and Moria’s testily testosterone-y verbal sparring partner. The sisters are separated under suspicious circumstances, sent on quests with their respective menz.

Sea of Shadows might sound corny but I enjoyed it. Really.

I love Kelley Armstrong’s work because she blends great character work with real issues like the race and caste issues incorporated into Sea of Shadows. There’s one incident where a child accuses a man of sexual assault; this is handled discretely and well. Without giving away spoilers, the point was to ask: ‘How do you judge the truth? When it’s one person’s word against another’s, what do you do?’ This was handled in a manner far superior to Gone Girl.

Sea of Shadows gets 5 stars as a fantasy–horror–romance aimed at a YA-loving audience.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars

A few years back, Kelley Armstrong visited Melbourne where I interviewed her and she did an author talk