Title: These Divided Shores
Author: Sara Raasch
Pub. Date: August 27, 2019
Pub: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Fantasy
As a child, she committed unforgivable acts to free Grace Loray from King Elazar of Argrid. Now Elazar’s plan to retake the island has surpassed Lu’s darkest fears: he’s holding her and his son, Ben, captive in an endlessly shifting prison, forcing them to make a weapon that will guarantee Elazar’s success. Escape is impossible—unless Lu becomes the ruthless soldier she hoped never to be again.
Vex failed to save Lu and Ben—and that torments him as much as his Shaking Sickness. With the disease worsening, Vex throws himself into the rebellion against Argrid. The remaining free armies are allied with the stream raider syndicates—and getting them to cooperate will take a strength Vex thought burned on a pyre six years ago.
Imprisoned, betrayed, and heartbroken, Ben is determined to end his father’s rampage. Watching Elazar sway the minds of Grace Loray as he did those of Argrid, Ben knows he has to play his father’s game of devotion to win this war. But how can a heretic prince defeat the Pious God?
As armies clash and magic rises, Lu, Vex, and Ben will confront their pasts . . . or lose their futures forever.
This will be a spoiler free review, but there will be spoilers posted at the end – separate from the main review, because I need to gush about certain things. The section will be clearly marked, so if you haven’t read this book yet, just ignore it. If you have read it, slip on over to my Twitter or shoot me an email, because I melted. I listened to the audiobook via Audible and it was so good, so enjoyable. I highly recommend listening to this duology on audio – you won’t regret it. If you want to check out my review for These Rebel Waves – I’ve linked it, so feel free to read that first if you haven’t yet.
Have you ever read the perfect book?
Like, absolutely perfect, leaving you feeling whole and contented and just that happy-sad that the book is over, but it ended so beautifully you can’t be upset?
This was that book for me.
I don’t even know if I can properly explain just how good this was, how enjoyable and perfect. From the plot, the characters, the ending…no part of this book left me feeling disappointed. Like, I said in my review of These Rebel Waves, I had no expectations going into this duology – other than pirates and I’ve loved everything Sara has written.
Did I expect to find one of my new all-time favorite duologies?
Not at all, but I’m so glad I did. I cannot express enough just how much I loved this book. I guess I kind of feared that the ending wasn’t going to be satisfying, that I would be disappointed.
Nope. That didn’t happen. The only sad thing about the ending, was that it was the ending and there isn’t another book, and I had to say goodbye to the characters.
And the characters.
Y’all. Lu, Vex and Ben in this book are just – I don’t know if I have the words. Their journeys, the shit they have to go through, the trauma, the turmoil, the choices to do better, be better. I legitimately couldn’t ask for better character arcs. The culmination of everything they go through individually, together…it’s so satisfying.
Now, there was a moment that I thought Sara was going to thoroughly obliterate my heart. I swear it stopped and I was damn near about to rage through work because how dare, but I forgot that she’s a genius and that specific character is tough as shit. But seriously, I ripped my AirPod out of my ear and started ranting? lamenting? to my coworker, (who knows nothing about the book, or the plot), about how my heart was breaking, and she just stared at me, and told me to get back to listening to the book.
So I did.
And the ending isn’t disappointing. It’s so satisfying, it was hard won and worth the journey. It wasn’t some misspoken promise of a big battle that ends with peace talks. It was bloody, heartbreaking and alive. I could see every moment of it. I could feel the emotions of the characters, the distress, the fear…jfc, just thinking about it as I write this review brings it all back. Especially that moment where I thought Sara was going to rip my heart out and stomp on it.
I don’t know if I’ve accurately conveyed just how much I loved this book. I just think about this book, this duology and I’m filled with awe and warmth and I just love it. I could sit here all day and talk, but I really just want to throw these two books at you and urge you to read them. Between the plot, the magic system, the character arcs and relationships – it’s just so good and wonderful. I cannot recommend this duology enough and I’m so glad that I stopped sleeping on it and finally read it. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was dumb. I’m going to be shoving these books at my best friend and anyone else who will pick them up. Lu, Vex and Ben are wonderful, and I will love them forever.
Now for the spoiler section – You’ve been warned.
Um, that scene on the ship, at the end. Between Gunner and Ben.
MY HEART MELTED.
When Gunner said, “marry me” and Ben was just like *shocked*.
Between the two of them, they deserve so much happiness. And to see Ben realize that what he shares with Gunner is absolutely true and pure, my heart melted.
Like, I love the two of them together. Ben’s journey legit sucked. His father sucked and abused him, and Ben had to pretend to be something he wasn’t just to survive. Gunner challenged that.
Their relationship might’ve started rocky and in not a good place, but how they both grow and change – the things they go through together…the bond they formed. To see Ben get his happy ending, it filled my soul. The progression of their relationship just felt so natural and light despite everything going on around them. It was like there were no expectations and it was wonderful.
I like to think that they’re ruling their kingdom, happy and in love and just living life the best ways they can.
Lu and Vex are there too and they’re all just a big happy family.
Which leads me to Lu and Vex…
And we’re going to start with Vex.
THAT STUPID, STUPID BOY.
I love him, but he was stupid brave taking the permanent magic vial to defeat Elazar. As much as it would’ve been a poetic ending to his character, I was so furious with him.
But then there’s that moment, when he wakes up after nearly fucking dying and Lu comes to see him and they just get to be Lu and Vex. Not soldiers. Not fighting for their lives. Just happy and in love with each other. That moment where she’s talking, and he grabs her and pulls her on the bed…
If he had died, I would’ve raged.
I think they’re absolutely perfect for each other and I loved that we learned about the moment Lu fell in love with him, and when he with her. God, they’re just so wonderful, and that scene was so pure. After everything they’d both been through…
Also, can I just say, Vex’s sense of humor? That line where he tells Ben what his wedding gift is going to be – a plan that causes the user to become impervious to fire for a time…and Gunner who has fire magic…Ben’s utter mortification but Gunner’s absolute willingness to find a use…Vex, causing chaos wherever he goes!
I just loved that after everything they’d all be through their whole lives, the ending of this book is a bright, sunny, happy moment. Like a long sigh finally let loose. Their work isn’t over, but for this one minute, they can just be happy.