Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler. I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?
Wow, I guess it’s been a really tough semester seeing as how I haven’t posted since it began… So many books have gone by without remark. Ah well, just trust me when I say there have been many great reads these past few months. Today I’ll be talking about Kelley Armstrong’s Sea of Shadows. I had to make sure and read it quickly because she was visiting Oklahoma (last night actually).
Right off I’m going to say I really enjoyed it. I’ve seen people complain that it was slow, but I didn’t think so at all. Of course, what tends to excite me are origin stories and world-building – and really, how can a book that features creatures based off of Mongolian Death Worms be slow?!
So, the quick: The dead rise, myths come to life, and an unseen enemy orchestrates the destruction of everything Ashyn and Moria know.
The not so quick thoughts: I think the book’s greatest strength is its mythology – this is what holds everything together. The setting, characters, culture… It all creates one unified picture because of the mythology and it doesn’t matter whether the characters believe in it or not. Armstrong says that the novel is based on Japan. You can definitely see touches here and there (one of the character’s names, another’s clan, some of the weaponry, etc), but she adds a lot of originality to it and also adds bits and pieces from other mythologies in the world. Being me, it’s great fun to see if I can pick out which tales spawned different elements.
She said that a great source of inspiration for her was Japan’s “Sea of Trees” – a forest near Mt. Fuji that is very silent, beautiful, and eerie and is known for an exceptionally high rate of suicides. In Sea of Shadows there are exiles in the wood who are meant to die, rather than suicides, but regardless there are definitely restless spirits! So, there is a set of twins whose job it is to keep the forest quiet – one to go in and quiet restless spirits and one to stay behind and protect the village.
Of course things don’t go that simply and some truly chilling scenes follow. The characters are split up and we end up with one of the best written dual-protagonist books I’ve read in a long time. After a book I read last year drove me nuts with its multiple viewpoints, I’m really hesitant to read more. However, Armstrong did it perfectly. The pace never slowed down, there wasn’t a whole slew of ground being covered again and again…
The pacing of the book is even, the cliffhanger satisfying, and the characters enjoyable. All in all, a five star book and I can’t wait for the sequel.
Next up: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. She's another author who was on the book signing tour.