by Danielle L. Jensen
Dark Skies is the second novel in the Dark Shores series. If you haven’t seen my review of Dark Shores you can check it out here! I absolutely adored the first book in this series, and listened to it on audio book. So far, Dark Shores is my favorite book of 2020. Dark Skies will be available for purchase wherever books are sold, TOMORROW, May 5th! I got an ARC from Netgalley, and I preordered my physical copy from my favorite local independent bookshop.
With the first book in this series being my favorite of the year, I was excited to see how the second novel would stack up. I wasn’t worried that this would have second-novel-syndrome, because the writing and storytelling in the first book was just so good, and I knew I could trust Danielle L. Jensen to deliver. Would it be better? Would it be equal? I was about to find out.
It was definitely a much different experience reading the first book as an audio book, and the second book as an e-book. I’m a very fast reader, and because of that I can sometimes skim over words or paragraphs, and still come away with the gist of their purpose in the story. This was a skill I developed in college as an English Literature major. I would be taking three to four literature classes per semester, and in every class we were expected to read seven to ten novels. I quickly learned how to become a speed reader, while retaining the information I needed to pass my classes.
However, it’s a skill that allows me to read a lot of books in a short amount of time, but I noticed I took in a lot more information when listening to the audio book. There is no skim reading an audio book, so every descriptive scene, every explanatory prose, got soaked up into my brain, which made the first book feel so alive and visceral.
In Dark Skies we follow the same timeline as Dark Shores, but with different characters. I knew this was going to happen before I started reading, so I didn’t experience any shock or disappointment that our beloved Teriana and Marcus were seemingly absent for most of this book. They do make a few ‘appearances’ through the eyes of our new narrators, Killian and Lydia.
Thankfully, Jensen continues down the path of multiple POV, allowing us an in-depth look at both of our main characters’ thoughts and actions throughout the novel. I also noticed we switched characters more frequently in this novel (almost every other chapter) compared to the first. Once again our male character is a soldier, a character I believe the author writes exceptionally well (I mean the descriptive fight scenes, hello?!). Our female character is a politician’s (adopted) daughter and aspiring scholar, which at first was much different than following a female pirate princess. As the story progresses, we quickly learn that scholars can be badasses too, when it comes to survival.
I’ve noticed that books with repeating timelines, as seen through different character’s perspectives, can sometimes feel boring and repetitive. This novel did not give off that vibe at all, and instead filled the story we were already familiar with with even more depth and background.
I was thrilled when this novel took place on the Dark Shores, and we were able to learn a lot more about the gods/goddesses through Lydia and Killian’s experiences. Their entire story revolves around the seven deities, the blessed, and the discussion around faith.
The plot of this novel was dealing with a war between gods, in which men, women, and children were being used as pawns to suit their agenda. The seventh god was repeatedly tearing Killian and his people down, making them lose faith in their gods, themselves, and each other. It honestly was a rather depressing read. Whereas by the end of Dark Shores Marcus and Teriana had come to an agreement within themselves and regarding each other, Killian and Lydia brought together only to be pulled apart. It felt like by the end of this novel, they were both finally on the path their lives had been leading them towards, but the way they got there was convoluted and heartbreaking.
While Killian and Lydia, as well as the entire cast of Killian’s female soldiers, had rather good banter and chemistry, I did miss the camaraderie between Marcus’ men. The women in this story were thrust together last minute to form a troupe ordered to protect the life of a princess (whom I hated, by the way).
Jensen did such a good job developing characters, that I had strong and hard emotions about them. Every scene with the princess towards the latter half of this novel made me grimace. I wanted to like her. I wanted to root for her. This novel was a feminist dream (featuring lesbian representation and female empowerment), and yet, I could not stand behind her, her attitude, or her actions. Maybe when I reread this novel, knowing the outcome, I’ll see her and her actions differently, but for right now she’s on my list.
This novel made me want to know what will happen next. How will Marcus, Teriana, Killian, and Lydia meet in the future books? How will they defeat the evil that is closing in on all sides, especially if the evil force they’re facing is really a battle within themselves? As I was reading Dark Skies, I couldn’t help but notice Killian and Lydia’s names. Killian, a soldier blessed by the god of war, who is forced to kill his own people. Lydia, who has been away from her true home her whole life, and is blessed by the goddess of healing, and returns life back to her countrymen. It’s just so good! There’s so much to unpack in these two novels, that I could go on forever. I don’t know how long this series is supposed to be, but I will be there every step of the way.