Like with book one in this series by Danielle L. Jensen, it took me a while to become immersed in the story and find connection with the characters. But once that happened, oh man, Dark Skies did not slow down or disappoint.
*Dark Skies is the sequel to Dark Shores and while the story follows a different set of characters, there may be spoilers for book one included below. Read my review of Dark Shores instead.*
After meddling in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire, Lydia flees for her life to the west where she becomes entangled in a foreign war. Killian, marked by the God of War, is disgraced after failing to protect his kingdom from an invasion. To save those they love most, Lydia and Killian make a deal, but this bargain comes with unexpected consequences. As truths are revealed and loyalties are tested, a deadlier menace arises, threatening to sweep across both sides of the world.
The first handful of chapters in Dark Skies are chock full of names and places either I didn’t remember from book one or were new to the story. It felt like I was wading through a dump of political movements and uncharted maps. I desperately hope the final copy of this book includes both a map and a glossary of characters because it was a lot to remember and also learn as I read.
But once I was far enough into the story where I remembered parallel events from Dark Shores and also caught on to character names and places, this story took off. There’s a lot of action, a lot of dialogue, and a lot of politics. If you like fantasy that leans heavily on political conspiracies and usurping those in power, Dark Skies is the story for you.
I was a little disappointed to learn the this sequel did not pick up where Marcus and Teriana’s story left off in Dark Shores, but instead, this book follows Teriana’s best friend, Lydia, and what happens to her after Marcus fails to murder her. The events of this story run parallel to Dark Shores so as Lydia searches for a way home, she uncovers information about what is happening with Teriana and Marcus. But again, once I was locked into the story, I found how much I admired Lydia’s character. She’s not like Teriana at all, but she pushes through and does whatever she can to help people who are basically strangers. She’s a noteworthy female protagonist among many other YA fantasy stories. I particularly like that she wears glasses and it is a hardship when she doesn’t have them with her. I don’t see that often enough for it to matter in a story.
In addition, we’re introduced to a new character, Killian, who is from the “Dark Shores.” I like Killian’s character a lot, almost as much as Marcus. He’s strong and broody, but he also has a big heart for his people and he goes to great lengths to show that. He’s a good balance of the sweet, cinnamon roll type and the strong, heroic type.
As with the first book, the world-building details are spectacular in Dark Skies. This book expands upon what was established in book one, giving more insight into the lifestyle and customs of those who live on the Dark Shores. I love how intricate everything is tied together and how the gods play an active role in the story, shaping the characters and their actions. The enemy in this is also just the right balance of cruel and terrifying.
The relationship that develops between Lydia and Killian is interesting as well. While I figured they would end up in love, their relationship doesn’t move too quickly to be unbelievable. They help each other, learn from each other, and trust each other over the entire length of the story. Yes, the attraction is there, but they don’t let the romance overshadow what they are trying to do for Killian’s people, which is a blessed relief among many other YA stories.
There are a lot of intricate threads tied into this story, and I’m excited to see how those tie together with what happened in Dark Shores. Also, that ending left me with so much agony! I need book three way sooner than its publication date. If you liked Dark Shores or you want a good, immersive YA fantasy series, read Dark Skies.