Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2014 by HarperTeen
Source: Net Galley
They hear the spirits.They must obey.
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.
This book is about a pair of twins who are the Seeker and the Keeper of a village. No, it’s not a book about a Quidditch match (though I’d totally read such a book if it existed) but a book about dead things waking up and a whole host of other things. I’ve read Kelley Armstrong’s books; I quite liked the urban fantasy ones I read though the YA ones always seemed lacking to me. But I am not the targeted audience; keep that in mind while reading my review.
But as a scholar of children’s literature, this novel though containing several elements that, were they developed, would have made the book great ultimately failed to succeed with me. And I am not really sure why. No, actually, I do know why I have a problem with this novel. Moria and Ashyn are interesting protagonists with Moria being the more vivacious one while Ashyn is shy, a dreamer. There are two boys so there is a lack of…okay no, there is a love triangle. Sort of.
I liked the premise of the story – I like the initial setting but hmm, I did not like the characters. None of them were unique or individuated in a way that set them apart from other characters appearing in other books. What I did like was the appearance of supernatural beings that had until then only been present in the stories Moria told to the village children.
There is a lot of death in the story but none of them are given any proper weight. There is a lack of complexity to the world; the world building is not as developed as I like in my high fantasy stories. It has a very superficial feeling and I wouldn’t know how to make it better but I just like more complicated, complex worlds that are gnarled and twisty and just wonderful to read about. I didn’t get that in Sea of Shadows.
Another thing that irritated the heck out of me was the relationship between the two girls. Okay, we have been told how close they are and how they can’t do without each other but they don’t show it. In fact, one of the guys has to prod one sister to talk to another. It is as though the presence of the boys immediately obliterated their sisterly bond. They failed to convince me of their closeness. I needed to see more of their interaction; I wanted a sticky, complicated relationship where you could discern their complicated feelings for each other from the way they communicated. I wanted them to converse both about superficial things and things that matter. Like the relationship Cat has with Bee in Kate Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy. I wanted that. Of course I didn’t get it.
People who go into this expecting something of substance, something that lingers will be disappointed. If you go in expecting fluff, you will get it. Adjust your expectations accordingly and you will be fine. Happy reading.