Thursday, April 23, 2020

#Review - Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen #YA #Fantasy

Series: Dark Shores (#2)
Format: Hardcover, 480
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Unwanted betrothals, assassination attempts, and a battle for the crown converge in Dark Skies, the sequel to the YA fantasy Sarah J. Maas called “everything I look for in a fantasy novel”


Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself caught in the middle of a war.


Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice will put his oath—and his heart—to the test.


With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a deal to save those they love most—but it is a bargain that could lead them to disaster.

Dark Skies is the second installment in author Danielle L. Jensen's Dark Shores series. The setting isn't just a few kingdoms, but an entire world. It crosses a dozen nations, it contains diverse cultures and races and religions, it faces evils that are both human and decidedly inhuman. This story delves more into the gods and goddesses of the Dark Shores, particularly the seventh god, The Corrupter. The most feared god, The Corrupter wants control over all of the other gods. People who have been “marked” by this god can literally suck out your life force.
But at the heart of the series has always been the friendship between two girls, Lydia and Teriana. Dark Skies alternates between Killian Calorian, a new character readers haven't met yet, and Lydia Valerius, best friend to Teriana, the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate who you would have met in Dark Shores. Lydia Valerius is the adopted daughter of Senator Appius Valerius and very much an outsider due to not being born in Calendral.  
If you've read Dark Shores, you know that Lydia did a bad thing which ended up with Lydia disappearing about the time Terianna and her crew ended up in deep trouble. A good part of Lydia's story actually takes place simultaneously to Teriana's story. After betraying Teriana's trust and her friendship, Lydia has every intention of making things right. But, she ends up in another land called Mudamora where she suddenly finds that she has some pretty cool new abilities that may or may not work back in Celendral. 
From being the subject of an assassination attempt, to an unwanted bethrotal, to being robbed, beaten up and then being Marked, to being a guard for Malahi and coming to trust Killian to help train her, Lydia's journey is nearly non-stop. Lydia being Marked is a curious twist to her life and leads to some major twists. Lydia's transformation and journey from the beginning to the end show the girl has a bit of moxy to her. 
The story actually begins by introducing readers to 19-year old Lord Killian Calorian. After Killian and his Legion suffer a catastrophic defeat to Rufina, and her 10,000 corrupted, he's assigned to protect Princess Malahi for the rest of his life. In Killian's part of this world, there are people who are Marked by the Six. Killian has been marked by Tremon who is the God of conflict and war. Unfortunately, Tremon didn't help him or his legion when they were overrun and soundly defeated, and he didn't help Killian get out of his protection detail. 
But, there is more to Killian than meets the eye. A softer side that will see him rescue orphan children and ensure they are fed with food that would have been tossed away by Malahi's cooks. He is just trying to do something that will make a difference and save lives. He knows he can't save everyone but that doesn't mean he won't try until his last breathe. Then he meets Lydia. Here's something fun, Killian actually knows who Teriana and her crew are and are willing to help Lydia save them. The Maarin have the capability to travel from East to West without letting anyone know how they are able to do it.

Politics is a major player in Dark Skies. It drove the story and heaped out tons of tension between the characters. So much scheming by so many different people. The plot twists were anything but predictable. All of the characters have their flaws. No one has all of the answers and no one is completely invincible or untouchable. The intrigue really carried the story along with all of the danger. The danger is intense. Wars, a plague, starving citizens, demons falling from the sky, dangerous armies, literally ones called the Corrupted at your front gate
The author and Tor Teen have made a choice for readers which is pretty unique in this genre. You can start reading the series with Dark Shores, OR, you can start reading with Dark Skies first. They have the same starting points which will converge in the third book! While this book doesn't focus on Marcus or Teriana, they do make brief appearances since Lydia's story overlaps with events that cross over from Teriana and Marcus's.  The author states on her Goodreads page that she hasn't abandoned either character. You'll see them again in the third installment she calls Dark Skies as well as Lydia and Killian.

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