Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Published by: Kelley Armstrong
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Extent: 416 pages
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.
Strong female leads, legendary creatures long thought as extinct, riveting storyline, and unexpected betrayal––What more can you get out of a book? With Sea of Shadows, you get all the above and more. Kelley hasn’t delved into high fantasy before, so I wasn’t sure what to anticipate with this debut novel.
After Moria and Ashyn’s town is massacred, the Edgewood children are kidnapped, and the Seeking is interrupted, Moria, Ashyn, Gavril, and Ronan plunge into a perilous journey that forces them to fight reawakened creatures and to cross the deadly Wastes so they can save the children.
Edgewood is perched on the border of the Forest of the Dead, where the Empire sends its convicts. The Seeker begins the annual Seeking, a day to relinquish the trapped and enraged spirits. The Keeper stays to protect the town and its people. Many of the Edgewood residents staunchly believe in the legends of old. Moria and Ashyn are often revered by the town. The book’s shining beacon is the twins. But they are nothing alike. Moria is sharp and hard like steel, while Ashyn is quiet as a breeze, but she has a hidden strength not many see. Together? They are an unbelievable force.
“She watched as her sister read it. Watched as her face crumpled, as her shoulders shook. Ashyn caught her and held her, and they fell against each other as the tears came.”
I adore Moria and Ashyn’s relationship. I got to see how siblings truly protect each other. I grew up with half-siblings, but I’ve never felt a sisterly bond with any of them. The twins’ relationship is effortless, relatable, and, at times, gut wrenching. Moria and Ashyn, along with their father, often defy tradition and the Empire as a way to honour their mother, who took her life to protect them. Reading the twins’ bond, I now see how a real blood bond looks like.
Getting into the Age of Legend series took me a while, but with a second, and for this review, a third reread, I truly enjoyed the book. Kelley creates a captivating world that I haven’t seen in other stories. Sea of Shadows is a solid high-fantasy YA novel that’s rich in mythology. It may have a slow start, but at the heart of this story are two sisters whose wish is to serve their Empire and their people. As Kelley brings long-lost legends to this series, the backstory for each just adds more to the world building. I can’t wait to visit this world again.