I’ve got a review for you today! A review for a book by one of my favorite authors — and I can definitely say the book wasn’t quite like anything I’ve read before!
Title: Beyond the Shadowed Earth
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
- Date read: January 31, 2020
- Rating: 5 stars
- Genre: Fantasy / Epic Fantasy
- Age: YA/NA
- Year pub: 2020
- Pages: 400
- Series: Companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea, but stands alone
- Source: The publisher
- Notes: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
- Links: Goodreads • Amazon • Author’s Website • Barnes & Noble
About Beyond the Shadowed Earth
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.
What a stunning, mythic, gripping fantasy tale! This again affirms that I want to read everything this author writes. AWK! There are so many twists and it was so unique that it’s going to be hard to write a spoiler-free review, but I’ll give it a shot. I had SO MANY FEELS after reading it that it took me awhile to sort them out enough to write this review. I’m not sure I’ve quite recovered, even now. XD
Beyond the Shadowed Earth was rich and vivid, gritty, raw, but also gorgeous. It’s darker than I usually like but I still loved it! The writing utterly captivated me, completely reeling me in to this world. Golden deserts and lush palaces (perfect for climbing on the roofs! ;)), rugged mountains and sea and travel, and so much imaginative fantasy effortlessly threaded through the whole.
I was a little nervous about the main character, Eda, having been a villain in the companion book. I loathed her in that. XD But, as I should have guessed (given this author’s talent), Eda totally grew on me and had a fascinating journey in this book. No spoilers but I’m extremely impressed with the writing and her story and have a lot feels! What a spitfire. It’s been quite a journey, that’s for sure!
The characters were all very well drawn and intriguing, and it’s fitting that you could never be quite sure where their schemes lay, given that Eda herself is somewhat of a scheming character—eheheh. I was kept very much on my toes with all the deceptions and twists! The characters were all very real, and I don’t want to give any spoilers but their stories were fascinating. I particularly loved the mapmaker, Morin! Also his sister. Actually, sisters in general played a big part and seemed like a theme in the book, which I loved!
I will mention that it’s very dark. There’s a looot of blood and death and betrayal, and mild swearing, and some quite creepy, disturbing parts—which comes with the territory, I suppose. XD I’d recommend it for more mature teens and up.
Moving back to more things I loved! One of my favorite things about this world is their mythology and how we get bits of stories within this story. I absolutely loved that! It gave it so much depth and richness and was just so interesting. Also, the eagles!! I loved them so much! (You’ll see what I mean when you read it. ;)) One of my favorite parts was the second half, with the mountains and the journeying. (Also! Snow leopard!! *squeaking*)
This book is a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea, which I also loved. Both can stand alone, and are very different, but I loved the nods, references, and parallels between the two!
It’s like nothing I’ve read before! Although, having said that, I suppose it does remind me some of The Silmarillion, for the scope and the “gods” in this (who seem to be spirits much like the Valar in The Silmarillion), though created by the One. And I hear that it’s rather like Megan Whalen Turner’s books too, which makes me curious to try those! And the deserty bits reminded me a little of King’s Folly by Jill Williamson. Okay, so it did remind me of other things, but still felt utterly unique and new. If you enjoyed any of those three, or are already a Joanna Ruth Meyer fan, you need to give this a shot.
The themes were really interesting and left me thinking about this story for days afterward—as did all of my poor tangled feels which took me awhile to untangle enough to write this review! XD So many feels! I just—awk! How do I even explain this book and all the thiiings and feels! *collapses* It was just really good, and in a sense I’m surprised at myself for liking it as much as I did, because some of it just isn’t my cup of tea, but I still just . . . really enjoyed it!
Overall, it’s darker than I usually enjoy reading, but it was so breathtaking I didn’t mind as much, and despite the shadows and death and rawness, there’s a beautiful tale of redemption here, with excellent twists and gorgeous writing. If you love fantasy and can handle a darker tale, this one is well worth checking out!
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