Title: Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Beneath the Haunting Sea #2)
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Pub. Date: January 14, 2020
It has always been Eda’s dream to become empress, no matter the cost. Haunted by her ambition and selfishness, she’s convinced that the only way to achieve her goal is to barter with the gods. But all requests come with a price and Eda bargains away the soul of her best friend in exchange for the crown.
Years later, her hold on the empire begins to crumble and her best friend unexpectedly grows sick and dies. Gnawed by guilt and betrayal, Eda embarks on a harrowing journey to confront the very god who gave her the kingdom in the first place. However, she soon discovers that he’s trapped at the center of an otherworldly labyrinth and that her bargain with him is more complex than she ever could have imagined.
Set in the same universe as Joanna’s debut, Beneath the Haunting Sea, Beyond the Shadowed Earth combines her incredible world building and lush prose with a new, villainous lead.
This will be a spoiler free review.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved I could never really pin down what was going to happen next. I loved that there were moments that downright shocked me and caused me to stop reading to deal with my emotions. I also really Eda and her strengths/weaknesses.
With that being said, I was also a little disappointed in this book. It might just have been that my expectations were a bit too high – I loved her book, Echo North, so much. I also haven’t read Beneath the Haunting Sea, so that might have also been a factor. I do plan on reading it – it’s on my radar, I just haven’t gotten to it yet. Plus, everything I saw didn’t point to you having to have read it for it to make sense – since the books only take place in the same universe.
I was also a little disappointed in the ending. I can’t really go into detail about it without explaining why with spoilers, but I felt a little cheated.
But, again, overall, I loved this book, this story, the world and characters that she created. I’m actually excited to read Beneath the Haunting Sea now. Prior to reading this, it was pretty low on my TBR stack.
I really liked how Eda wasn’t your typical savior/hero character. She’s selfish and power hungry and constantly having to battle against men who deem themselves more worthy than her. Eda is flawed and badass, and ultimately goes on a journey to save the world. Does she grow and change? Yes, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter…
I also found it amazing that (albeit with a Gods help) Eda was able to worm her way into being Empress, because she had zero qualifications and really wasn’t political savvy in the slightest – which obviously leads to a bit moment where her life comes crashing down around her.
I liked the journey Eda goes on, but it felt a bit rushed – but I’m a big sucker for plots that deal with traveling through the woods for days on end and two people get to know each other very well. I just wish it had been a bit more drawn out.
I also will say that some of the abilities in this book, kind of surprised me, but I have a feeling that’s more because I haven’t read book 1 yet, than it just being random.
As a final note – I mentioned it briefly before; the ending. I kind of wish there hadn’t been an Epilogue to this book. I usually really like Epilogues and the tidbit of information we get as the reader, after the world’s been saved. Not this time. Honestly, it left me feeling a bit annoyed and underwhelmed. I think it was supposed to show Eda’s redemption, of her coming to terms with who she is and what she’s done, but I didn’t get that. It felt like there should have been more, or none at all, and left it to the reader to decide what her fate was.
Overall, this is definitely a great fantasy and I can’t honestly think of anything else that I’ve read this year that is like it. There are a few small similarities – giant, people carrying birds – being the main thing, but still unique. The lore and history that Joanna has created in this world is so rich and vast and the pantheon of Gods is so interesting. Definitely pick up Beyond the Shadowed Earth when it comes out in little over a month, January 14, 2020!