ARC Review: Beyond the Shadowed Earth

Title: Beyond the Shadowed Earth
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐💫
Series: Beneath the Haunting Sea #2 (Companion)
Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Goodreads synopsis:

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.

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I received an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Page Street Publishing!

Though I had trouble with the first few parts of the book, Beyond the Shadowed Earth flaunted exquisite story elements such as the writing style, the plot, and the rich world-building. At the end of it, I can say that I enjoyed reading the book!

Beyond the Shadowed Earth book cover

Brilliant writing style

I adored the writing style of the author. It was poetic, sometimes haunting, and it was definitely atmospheric. The author also did a great job with the imagery, whether that be a description of the various places and cities or the clothing worn by the characters. It was great!

Okay characters

I struggled a lot with the first few parts of this book, mainly because of the main character. I had trouble liking Eda, connecting with her or relating to her. She was selfish, cruel, and probably conceited as well. I understand that she’s a “villainous” lead and I expected as much, but 30% of the time I was just completely annoyed by her attitude and her thinking that I couldn’t read continuously. I didn’t lose hope immediately though. I hoped for some sort of character development and in a way, there was. Her character went through a journey filled with vengeance, betrayals, lies, sacrifices, and friendship. Do I think her character has been redeemed? Not entirely. But I did love that she was finally on the right path at the end of the book.

As for the minor characters, Ileem was an interesting addition to the mix. Rescarin was annoying, but I loved his part as a “villain”. Domin was an interesting kind of character, and I loved the change he went through. I adored Morin and Tainir as well, and what they symbolize what’s next for Eda. And Liah, I wanted to know more about her, I was disappointed that I didn’t get any more details about her and her story.

Intricate plot

I also came to love the plot of this book—it wasn’t the usual “I’m going to save my people” kind of plot, instead it was “I’m looking for revenge” and I found that refreshing. I also loved how it was unpredictable at times. For example, I already expected a few of the plot twists, but there were several that really shocked me and I wanted to scream just a little!

Great world-building

The world-building of Beyond the Shadowed Earth is definitely my favorite part. It was rich and expansive, and I loved the idea of the different “Circles”. And although this is a companion level, I had no trouble absorbing all details about the fictional world it was set in. All the little tales and myths plus the brilliant imagery were just enough to get me falling for the world-building.

I also liked the insertion of religion into the world-building and the story itself! I’m gonna be honest and say that I’m not the most religious person out there, but I loved the way they talked about the gods and faith here. (I definitely have a couple of lines highlighted!)

Buy Beyond the Shadowed Earth:
Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

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Overall, this was a pretty decent read. I know others will definitely love this kind of book. Maybe you’re one of those, dear reader? What do you think, are you up for this book? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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