Number of pages: 448
Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1
Rating (out of five stars): 2
I was really excited for this one despite less positive reviews because it featured Celtic mythology, and I’ve been looking for something to push me to start reading Celtic mythology. Unfortunately, my main sentiment during and after reading Beyond a Darkened Shore was “yikes”.
Let’s start with the writing, because that’s what caused most of the issues I had with Beyond a Darkened Shore. You know when your teacher hands you back your essay and it has a section circled with “awkward” in red pen beside it. Well, this book is the section of your essay, and I’m the one doing the circling. Beyond a Darkened Shore feels almost unedited. I was shocked to learn it’s not a debut novel.
Along with the awkward writing comes awkward dialogue. I got the feeling that Ciara and Leif were supposed to have this witty enemies-to-lovers banter, but all I could think about every time they opened their mouths was how nobody would actually talk like they do. I‘m sure I missed some of the story because I was so fixated on how bad the dialogue was.
Speaking of Ciara and Leif, we have a lovely example of insta-love here. They knew each other for like 2 days before Leif was struggling to keep it in his pants. And the book tries really hard to convince the reader that it isn’t insta-love because while they spent what felt like hours in some other realm, a week/ month passed by in the mortal realm. That’s not how it works. It’s the amount of time the characters spend together, not the amount of time that passed somewhere the characters weren’t. The conflict between them also felt really contrived and was resolved too quickly. Ciara really needed to stop reminding herself she was supposed to hate him like as if her hatred was an afterthought after considering what it would be like to make out with him.
I felt like the author did an okay job of incorporating both Celtic and Norse mythology into the story. I feel like the Norse mythology was a bit poorly explained if you have no background knowledge, but I happen to know a little bit about Norse mythology, and I understood the Celtic stuff well enough. However, the one thing with the mythology that irritated me was how for roughly the first half of the book they referred to The Morrigan by all of her names. She’d show up and it would be like “Oh my god, it’s The Morrigan, goddess of blah and blah, blah, and blah” (this is obviously not an actual quote, and a clear example of how shockingly little I know about Celtic mythology). It soon got frustrating because I wished they would just call her The Morrigan or by one of her other titles, rather than by all of them.
The characters were very underdeveloped. Leif had no substance beyond obviously being someone’s idea of the ideal boyfriend, and Ciara was basically angry about the most nonsensical things, such as Leif telling an injured Ciara to stay away from his drunken men for her safety. While the Irish being angry all the time is a lovely Irish stereotype, a stereotype does not a good character make.
Overall, the idea behind Beyond a Darkened Shore was interesting, but the execution left much to be desired. It has therefore earned 2 stars out of 5.