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Dark Shores #1

Dark Shores

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High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, a thrilling first novel in a fast-paced new YA fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.


Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.


Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.


When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published May 7, 2019

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About the author

Danielle L. Jensen

23 books9,138 followers
Join Danielle's mailing list for exclusive content, giveaways, and new release alerts https://danielleljensen.com/newslette...

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of the Malediction series, the Dark Shores series, and the Bridge Kingdom series, as well as the forthcoming A Fate Inked in Blood. She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her family and guinea pigs.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,442 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
May 4, 2023

((Reviewer's Note: Please read the line below in that movie trailer voice. Yeah, you know the one...))

In a world divided into East and West, just one people, the Maarin, have the secrets to what lies between.

The Maarin are a seafaring people who recover lost and stolen goods at sea. Additionally, they trade along the coasts.

They are the only people who know of the existence of both the East and West. Due to this, they are also the only ones who know how to traverse the Endless Seas between.

Living under the mandate of, East must never meet West, all things go astray when Teriana, a young heir to the Maarin Triumvirate, exposes deeply held secrets to her dear friend, Lydia, a member of the ruling class within the Celendor Empire.

Proving once again that loose lips do in fact sink ships.

Not to point fingers here, but due to this little indiscretion, higher-ups in the Celendor Empire now have one thing on their minds: conquest. They will do whatever it takes to discover the route to the Dark Shores.

The Celendorians take Teriana, as well as her crew, prisoner. Thus, she is forced to either show them the way, or risk the lives of all her people.

Strong armed by Marcus, Commander of the 37th, a Legionnaire for the Celendor Empire, Teriana does the only thing she can do. She agrees to help them in exchange for the safety of her people.

Not all is smooth sailing on their voyage, however, and Teriana and Marcus end up forging an unlikely alliance in order to make it through.

I thought this was such an interesting story. You can definitely feel the inspiration of Ancient Rome on the Celendor Empire and I loved the overriding mystery of the Dark Shores.

The relationship between Teriana and Marcus, while a tad instalovey, definitely left me rooting for them.

This book is not just a romance, however, there is quite a bit of political intrigue as well, which I am always down for.

There's nothing better than good old-fashioned blackmail for political gain to keep a plot progressing!

I had a lot of fun reading this and definitely plan to pick up the next book.

This one left off in a great spot for a sequel, with a horrible villain still on the loose.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had so much fun with it and would really like to hear more people chatting it up.

If you enjoy ocean-related content, Roman-inspired worlds, unlikely alliances, political backstabbing and meddling gods, you should definitely check out Dark Shores!
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
379 reviews1,002 followers
January 21, 2021
Buddy read with Zoe!!!

I just re-read this and thought it was FINALLY time for a review!!! (I swear, my RTC pile is just as likely to crush me as my TBR pile, haha)

“This was how it was supposed to feel. Like standing on a cliff high above a turquoise sea, terrified to jump but desperate for the thrill of the fall.”


Welcome, welcome to the Dark Shores, where “East must never meet West”!

This decree causes two mighty empires to exist side-by-side with no knowledge that the other exists, save for myths and legends passed down by travellers and believed to be no more than mere stories or rumours.

The Maarin, a seafaring race, are the only ones who know how to navigate the Endless Seas between them. In the East is the Celendor Empire (aka “the Empire”) that functions much like an Ancient Roman society, complete with everything from senators to legionnaires. I’m not entirely certain what their beliefs are (agnostic? atheist?) because unlike the Ancient Romans, in the Empire, paganism is punishable by death.

Naturally, of course, the Maarin and the Dark Shores (the empire in the West, which is made up of Arinoquia, Derin, Gamdesh, Katamarca, Mudamora and the Uncharted Lands) worship the Six gods (aka “the Six”), but not the Seventh, who is known only as the Corruptor, due to being a dark god.

By the way, if you wanted a master-list of the seven gods to keep track of, here you go:
Gespurn: God of the Elements
Madoria: Goddess of the Seas
Lern: God of the Beasts
Yara: Goddess of the Earth
Hegeria: Goddess of Body and Spirit
Tremon: God of War
The Seventh: God of the Dark, aka the Corrupter

“There are as many paths as there are travellers.”

In terms of other world building, xenthier crystal paths exist within Reath (the planet comprised of the Dark Shores and the Celendor Empire), which instantly transport people and goods. The Empire currently has mapped paths within its own territories for efficiency purposes, but have yet to map the other paths that exist in the Dark Shores and the Endless Seas, due to being unaware that this other hemisphere even existed until now.

PSA: This is NOT a series about piracy. It’s an Ancient Roman-inspired fantasy. If you go into this expecting actual piracy to take place, you WILL be disappointed (or at least, pleasantly surprised, lol)!


“And she could feel every year of it, the city so deeply steeped in history and blood, life and death, that it seemed almost sentient. As though even if it were devoid of people, it would still be alive.”

Teriana is the daughter of Captain Tesya of the Quincense and the heir Triumvir of the Maarin Trade Consortium. When she confides in her best friend, Lydia, about the Dark Shores, a secret that her people have sworn to die for in order to protect, Senator Cassius becomes aware of another hemisphere just waiting for him to conquer…or so he thinks. Taking hundreds of Maarin sailors prisoner, including those on her mother’s ship – who she considers family, Cassius successfully interrogates and blackmails Teriana into agreeing to guide his legions across the Endless Seas to the Dark Shores. Once she has completed her task, their accord stipulates that she and her people are free to go. This conquest will be led by Marcus, the Legatus of the 37th Legion, who is meant to establish a Cel foothold in the Dark Shores.


“Just because you can't do something doesn't make it impossible.”

Teriana is not my favourite when it comes to Danielle L Jensen’s female protagonists. I like her, but she can be rather abrasive (which could definitely be attributed to being raised as a fierce pirate) and naïve about how the world works. Why would you divulge a secret that your people have sworn to protect? A secret that literally protects the lives of an entire bloody hemisphere? Come on, Teriana. You’re smarter than that…

She’s also caught in between wanting to save her fellow Maarin sailors and coming to care for the legionnaires who she’s guiding on this journey. She realises that they’re more than just some weapons for the Celendor Empire. They’re real people with distinctive personalities and have just as little say as she does in their situation. They don’t want to conquer these people either, but its either they follow their orders, or die and other legionnaires will be happy to take their place.


“It was all shades of grey: moral justification for immoral ends. A good man pushed into the role of a villain - not just for the sake of his own survival, but for that of his men.”

Marcus, however, IS my favourite male protagonist of Danielle’s! He’s just – GAH!amazing! He’s a strategical prodigy, which prompted him to quickly rise in the ranks of the legionnaires and become the Legatus of the 37th Legion, turning it into an elite and undefeated one, much to the Empire’s pride. However, Marcus doesn’t want to be doing this. Like the rest of his men, they were stolen from their parents and forced into service, broken down and rebuilt into killing machines. Marcus, though, has some secrets of his own that may come back to haunt him as they’re used as leverage against him.

He has to juggle dealing with Teriana – so that she gets her people back, conquering the Dark Shores with as little bloodshed as possible, protecting his men from harm, and navigating Senate politics…oh, and a secret illness along with PTSD, as well. Despite all this, he’s so sweet and I love him SO MUCH. He deserves all the happiness in the world. My poor baby goes through A LOT. :(((

“I don't know if what's left of me is worth anything, whether it is enough, but it's yours.”


I absolutely LOVE this series. I honestly can’t tell you whether I prefer this or The Bridge Kingdom. They’re both high-quality series in my eyes. This book has epic world-building from an Ancient Roman-esque society to meddlesome gods, a sweet enemies-to-lovers romance, political intrigue from blackmail-driven conquest to island village skirmishes, and exciting, fast-faced adventures from sea voyages to legion battles. I can’t name a single thing that I don’t like about this book…maybe the length because I didn’t want it to end? It’s just perfect to me!

“I know a real man owns his actions. He doesn't hide behind a mask.”


I highly, highly recommend giving this a go! It deserves so much more hype! It’s one of the better Greco-Roman series I’ve ever read, and I’ve read quite a number of them! <3
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
November 17, 2020
its really not surprising that i enjoyed this a lot. it has so many of the things that i love to read about in YA fantasy:

- ancient roman influences in the world building
- a story set on a ship sailing the seas
- a slow burn enemies to lovers that feels natural

plus, im already a fan of the author, so her writing style is something i already knew i would like. i will admit that the pacing is on the slower side, but something had me hooked in the story right from the beginning, so i didnt mind it.

plus, i was really into marcus. but then again, a standoffish brooding soldier is exactly my type. so no surprise there either.

i think fans of ‘the bridge kingdom,’ ‘the winners curse,’ and ‘the kiss of deception’ will really enjoy this first installment of the series.

4 stars
Profile Image for Danielle Jensen.
Author 23 books9,138 followers
May 13, 2019
I can't wait for readers to dive into DARK SHORES. Here's a few things to expect!

~ A world inspired by Ancient Rome
~ LOTS of political intrigue
~ A villainous, power-hungry senator bent on conquest
~ Slow burn romance (as if I could write a book without kissing!)
~ Exciting sea voyages
~ Legions engaging in epic battles (on land)
~ Meddlesome gods
~ Friendship, both new and old
~ Family drama
~ A fierce heroine who says what she thinks and means what she says
~ A brilliant hero with far too many dangerous secrets that are coming back to haunt him
~ A large cast of secondary characters who keep things from getting too serious

Things you will NOT find in this book:

~ Scenes where actual piracy takes place. While some of the characters (including Teriana) are seafaring people, this novel is NOT about pirates capturing ships, etc. Some of the marketing decisions for this novel were made because the sea voyage aspects have echoes of Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, this has led many readers to believe that the novel is a swashbuckling tale of pirates, which is not the case.

TW: Profanity, torture, violence, character deaths, some moderate sexual content
Profile Image for Angelica.
814 reviews1,149 followers
April 19, 2020
A million years ago, back when I read more than four books a month and actually had time to post reviews, I read Danielle L. Jensen's debut novel, Stolen Songbird and really enjoyed it. So, I was pretty eager to try out this book and see where this sweeping, epic story about pirates and soldiers was going to take me. 

And where did it take me, you might wonder.

Far. But also not far enough.

First of all, let it be known that despite what the synopsis tries to tell you, this book is not in fact about pirates. In fact, the very word 'pirate' is used exactly once in this entire book. So, I accuse this synopsis of false advertising and getting my hopes up for a story that was very different from what this one turned out to be.

That said, the story that we did get wasn't a bad story. I was still entertained. It was a quick, page-turner that made you want to keep reading. It's a book that according to Goodreads I had been "reading" for weeks. But in reality, I only actually read it in a few hours.

It was quick and fluid and easy to read and I'm sure many of you will enjoy it.

So, before you get too excited, allow me to point out some of its flaws.

The pacing in this book is a bit off at times. Sometimes it's good. Like I said, it's fast and fun. Other times it drags and it feels like we're a ship without a sail, waiting and hoping for something to move us along.

The world building had something missing to it. We get a good amount of info on the Celendorian, but nothing at all on the Dark Shores, despite the book's title. I wanted more details on these two worlds and the endless sea that separated them.

The romance was also nice, but also not? At times I liked it. Other times I wanted it to step aside. This was true near the end of the novel in particular where it felt like the romance was the main focus for a bit.

Also, just as a side note and general criticism on all YA, why do authors feel the need to cram complex enemies to lovers subplot onto us. I love that trope, but lately, it's gotten to the point where it feels forced. And if you plan for your books to be a series, why force them into love in book one? Why not drag it out and make it believable?

Anyway, in the end, I liked this one. It was nice. It was enjoyable. But I didn't love it, no matter how I tried. And I did try. I couldn't fully dive into it. Maybe it was because I expected a pirate adventure and Teriana and her people are very clearly not pirates? Maybe I wanted more epic battles and a more fleshed out romance? Maybe I just didn't love it because it simply wasn't for me.

Who knows.

Hopefully, some of you do get to read it and do end up liking it. I'm certain that many will end up enjoying it because it really is a pretty decent book.

Also, let's please appreciate that beautiful book cover. It deserves some praise.

**I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Profile Image for Lucie V..
1,012 reviews2,048 followers
April 29, 2022
“This was how it was supposed to feel. Like standing on a cliff high above a turquoise sea, terrified to jump but desperate for the thrill of the fall.”

✅ Sea adventure
✅ Roman-inspired
✅ Captive / captor
✅ Hate-to-love
✅ Action / fighting
✅ Strong main character
✅ Only one bed trope

This book is so good! Teliana is part of the Maarin, people living on their boats, and also the only one able to navigate the Endless Sea. Their job is to ensure that Est never meets West and that both empires never learn that there is more on the other side of the sea. But when Teliana reveals the truth to her best friend, she puts everyone she loves in peril.

"There was no right path. No good choice. No solution that would protect everyone."

The Celendor empire functions much like the ancient Roman society, and their new leader is thirsty for conquest. He tortures and threatens Teliana until she agrees to leave with 10 thousand legionnaires, to show them how to reach the other continent, and find a way back. Then, and only then, will her mother and the rest of the imprisoned Maarins will be freed.

The conquest of the Dark Shores is led by Marcus, the Legatus of the 37th Legion, and also the man who signed the deal with Teliana, ensuring that she does not try to kill him because the deal will be void if he dies. Teliana is not my favorite character, she is strong, and does not let just anyone control her, but at times she was really naive and all her whining got a little annoying. She is still a good main character though. Marcus is my favorite character in this book without any doubt. He is complex, brilliant, and good at manipulation. He seems ruthless but tries to protect his Legion and the innocent people he is sent to conquer, and he is drowning in remorse over the things he did in the past, even though he didn't have much of a choice.

It was all shades of grey: moral justification for immoral ends.

I like how Teliana comes to care for some of the legionnaires. She realizes that they are as prisoners of the empire as she is and that they are just as human as she is. Every one of them has a different personality and cares for their legionnaire brothers. They have no say in the orders they receive and they are trying their best to survive and protect each other. The hate-to-love relationship between her and the legionnaires is a good one.

I was expecting a pirate adventure, but it is really more of a Roman-inspired world, with a bit of sea adventure, but I don't even care because this book is great and I highly recommend it. I really enjoyed reading it and I can't wait to read the second one because Dark Shores ends with a kind-of cliffhanger... We know there is a traitor among the legionnaire, but we still don't know who it is.

Tarnished Empire ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,196 followers
Want to read
May 11, 2019
so many good fantasy novels this year, don't know where to start
Profile Image for Samantha.
440 reviews16.7k followers
April 26, 2020
DNF’d at 20%

This was not holding my attention. The world building felt sloppy, with elements being mentioned and not being connected to each other or the reader in any way. I didn’t find myself intrigued by the characters or the plot enough to continue with this book, let alone a 4 book series.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
March 10, 2021

Just published my November Reading vlog!
The Written Review

Teriana has lived her entire life on the sea - the comfort of the waves, the wild ways of the ocean.

The Celendor Empire has conquered everything in its path, and they think they are ruling the entire world...only to find out that Teriana and her people have a secret.

A secret so great that many have died to protect it.

There's a whole continent on the other side of the world - accessible only through portals. Marcus is assigned to discovering this secret continent and he has to do it to keep his family safe.

And then the unthinkable happens - Teriana family's ship was captured and in order to keep her mother safe, she's going to have to break the most sacred vow of her people.

Ehhh...to be honest...I don't know if it was the mood I was in or what but this one just wasn't that catchy to me.

I feel like I've read a myriad of similar plots in various YA books over the years and this one just wasn't different enough to hold my interest.

I just couldn't connect to it in the way I wanted.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Arini.
857 reviews1,763 followers
June 9, 2021
3.5 stars

it’d still be fantastic even without the romance - not that it was unwanted. that was part of why i read the book afterall. but it felt forced. the pacing was all over the place. sometimes it was packed with action, and other times it dragged. ive come to realise that this author’s heroines (well, ive only met one other) - while they were badasses - were not always the sharpest tool in the shed. the hero, however, was *tortured* full of angst, had a great leadership and sense of duty. i loved him.

the strategizing and politics were not my favorite - what with me having only two brain cells and all. but the action sequences were masterfully written, and i loved the ancient Greek/Roman inspired world. i heard that the sequel was not a continuation, and people seemed to like it more. so im looking forward to see how the story will coincide. all of that aside, i truly think DLJ is a brilliant author. shes quickly becoming one that i can always turn to for my YA/NA romantic fantasy fix.
Profile Image for Umairah (Sereadipity).
216 reviews111 followers
May 31, 2019
Dark Shores is a tale of political intrigue that questions whether everything can be easily classified as 'right' or 'wrong'. I really thought I'd enjoy this book because the premise sounded amazing and so many other people adored it. Sadly, it left me feeling disappointed.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing: 3/5

As always, I'll start with the positives. There was a very diverse cast of characters and the word building- based off of Ancient Rome- was convincing. Throughout the novel, we are told that Marcus is a legendary commander and his tactic of conquering by gaining the trust of and then manipulating the people is brilliant but in the most terrifying and unsettling way.

Teriana was a Maarin sailor, a part of a peaceful trading people. There were two main continents, with a vast swath of sea between them and the Maarin were the only ones who knew that both these continents existed. They lived by the principle, 'East must not meet West,' because they thought that if the East and West knew that they both existed they would destroy each other. I found this to be an interesting idea but I also found it hard to believe that they managed to keep a whole other continent a secret for so long.

The plot was very confusing and unrealistic. I wasn't sure if Teriana was trying to save the Maarin or help Marcus conquer the west or sabotage the conquering of the west. I couldn't tell if Marcus wanted to conquer the west or help Teriana or help the Arinoquian people or defy the evil senator. There were a lot of plot details that didn't fit in or make any sense. Furthermore, I could not bring myself to care about the characters. Teriana was annoying and immature despite what she may think about herself and Marcus was stubborn and forever drowning in self-hatred.

Teriana and Marcus had nothing between them. Their seemingly heart-rending romance sprung from nowhere and the whole enemies-to-lovers trope was very forced. I didn't feel any love, affection or chemistry between them but then suddenly, nearer to the end of the book, Marcus was being incredibly protective over Teriana and they were both swooning over each other. That's the problem I have with YA fantasy because normally the characters are intriguing and the plot is gripping but then an unrealistic insta-love romance, which adds nothing to the storyline, is randomly thrown in and ruins everything- which is what happened in Dark Shores.

Honestly, I think it was a case of, 'it's not you, it's me' with this book. I can understand why so many people loved it and I think it did have the potential to be amazing but it the end I couldn't connect with the characters and I found the plot to be a bit superficial.

Note: The title and blurb heavily imply that Dark Shores is a swashbuckling adventure akin to Pirates of the Caribbean. It's not. It's based on Ancient Rome and is more about fighting, military strategy and politics.

Thank you to Tor Teen and the author for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Click here to read this review and more on my blog.
Profile Image for Katherine.
265 reviews158 followers
June 12, 2021
Dark Shores is set in a world inspired by Ancient Rome, and follows our main characters:Teriana and Marcus. In between the story, Danielle Jensen has sprinkled in political strife among warring nations, powerful gods and a hate to love romance. 💖

In a small nutshell, this story is about the Maarin people who keep their home secret and seperate from the Celendor Empire (they fear conquest, and indentured servitude, so they keep separate-This mandate is known by all Maarin people--East must never meet West). This all changes when an ambitious and conniving Empire Senator makes his move against the Maarin people. Due to an unconscious broken mandate made by Teriana, heir to the Maarin Triumvirate.Teriana is forced to reveal her home to the enemy.

Marcus, the commander of the Thirty-Seventh Legion, is tasked with having her show the way across the Dark Shores.. and straight into her hidden Kingdom. If Teriana were to refuse, her crew, and her mother will all be killed! 🤯

I am really loving this series so far. Definitely read Tarnished Empire; which is the prequel!!

(4) 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Profile Image for ℓуηη_σƒ_νєℓαяιѕ.
441 reviews60 followers
September 22, 2019
Ahhhhh! Why did it have to end?! ⚔️⛵️⚓️🌅 And I have to wait until May for the sequel! 😱😭

So obviously I really loved this book. It was one of my most anticipated for the year and I'm sooo happy it didn't disappoint!

I LOVED the ancient Roman influence, the politics, the fantastical world, the camaraderie and hilarious quips. I love, love, love Teriana, Marcus, Servius, Quintus, Miki & Yedda. I couldn't get enough of any of them! I wasn't at all ready for this to end and having to say goodbye to them 😥

The various gods & goddesses are fascinating and the history of the tribes that worship them. I love the idea of there being "god-marked" individuals with special abilities according to which God blessed them. I did wish there was more explanation about them though. They're brought up at the beginning because of Bait, who's marked by the sea goddess Madoria. I wanted more on what those individuals are capable of and what it means to be marked. Like a birthmark?

Other than that lack of explanation, my only other minor issue was wondering how the Empire was so naive to not know the Maarin people come from somewhere. They're not just born at sea and take up sailing at age four lol 🌅🌊 They obviously have an island home somewhere. I wasn't buying it so much. But like I said, it's a minor thing.

Those two minor things aside I loved this so much! It gets a 4.75 stars. 😁 Silly me forgot it wasn't a stand-alone and near the end was wondering how everything could get wrapped up in a short time, so I double-checked Goodreads, found out it's a duology and nearly cried that I'd have to wait for the sequel!!! Good thing I didn't read this when it first came out or I'd have to wait even longer 😨

Anyway, I highly recommend this book!! And it's a hate-to-love romance! 😍 The best kind ever! 😝
Profile Image for Emma☀️.
332 reviews333 followers
May 8, 2020
3.5 stars
Before going into the book, I have to warn you: the blurb is slightly misleading. I expected pirates on the high seas but instead, Dark Shores is more focused on politics. Not that I’m complaining, because I love a book with political intrigue. I am slightly disappointed that this book did not feature any pirate and treasure raiding shenanigans. That aside, let’s continue on with the review!

The world-building was a bit weak but this is only the first novel of a series. Hopefully in the sequel, the world will be a bit fleshed out. I liked the concept of the East and West but found it a bit unrealistic that the two continents did not know the existence of one another.

The plot was the most interesting part of the novel! It did drag on a bit but soon picked up after the halfway mark. I loved the political intrigue and shifting power dynamics. Jensen did a wonderful job of blurring the lines between what’s right and wrong.
The gods were a great addition to the story and I hope to see more of them. Again, the blurb suggests they played a prominent role in the book but in reality, they only made guest star cameo appearances.

The story is told in dual POV: Teriana and Marcus
I liked Teriana as a character but I found her to be a bit too whiny and prone to rash (and stupid) decisions. Marcus was a complex and conflicted character and totally different from Teriana. He was an extremely angst-ridden boy and I felt that.
The one thing I did not like about this was the romance. I found it too forced and unnecessary considering the circumstances. A war is brewing, people! But I guess it makes sense that the adrenaline kind of played part in the heightened emotions *wink wink*

Overall, it was a solid start and I will continue with the series.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,063 reviews1,473 followers
June 8, 2019
Actual rating 3.75/5 stars.

Dark Shores is the first instalment in the Dark Shores series, involving high-stakes oceanic travel, piracy and plundering, and a world divided by religion and politics. East must never meet West and West does not know that East exists at all. But all that changes when the power-hungry Western hierarchy long to stretch their reach and seek to discover if the famed never-ending seas are hiding a secret they can dominate.

Teriana is first-mate of the pirate ship that sees itself as a central member of the unfolding story. She wants nothing more than the save her people, who have the echo of the sea within them, but learns she must fraternise with land-dwellers and go against all her religion has taught her against if she wishes to truly save them.

The first half of this story was everything I wished it to be. There was political scheming in abundance and everyone had an agenda they wished to play. It made for a complex plot-line but the action at the heart of it also made this fast-paced page-turner that I consumed in one sleepless night.

From the mid-point on a romantic element entered into the story-line that, whilst not unlikable or overdone, took away from the high-stakes thrills that had so far dominated. It wasn't until the very end, however, that my discontent began. Instead of providing closure or at least leaving me eager for more in the next series instalment, the romance became fully realised and this concluded in a sweet scene that would appeal to many when my pirate-heart was yearning for scenes of bloodshed or savagery instead.
Profile Image for Heather.
319 reviews289 followers
April 27, 2020
This book though!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Which is to say ... I enjoyed this read immensely so. In fact, I immediately purchased a hardback copy of this book and the soon to release Dark Skies upon finishing. It's that good.

What I liked

The writing is extremely smart. I never knew where it was going, but it all made perfect sense along the way. The politics play such an important role in this world and are extremely intricate. The story-line is detailed, easy to follow and gloriously twisty. The romance is believable and beautiful ... omg my heart!! The characters are flawed and complex, with backstories and beliefs that are interwoven throughout to make everyone feel very "real". The magic system was easy to understand (and gets explained more in book 2). I loved it all!

In Conclusion

This book was a delight from the very moment I picked it up. I recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for a fast paced, fun read and world!
Profile Image for Brenda Waworga.
606 reviews677 followers
May 5, 2019
This book isn’t about pirate/piracy tho we got a glimpse of the adventure on the ship.. the story is more about empire and politics and battles and magic and gods inspired by ancient Roman! The book told by 2 POVs (Marcus and Teriana)

There were few things I love and don’t like, so lets start with things I loved. I love the main idea that Danielle tried to bring on this book… “the East continent people cant meet West continent people” is such a unique idea and I also adore Marcus one of the main character on this book, I have soft spot for inner conflicted soldier with dark past or secrets! I also love the friendship stories here! The glossary behind the book is really helpful to understand some of the names and terms and myths

Now onto things I don’t really like… the pace sometimes super slow like almost.. almost want to skim read it and gosh I just don’t like Teriana (the 2nd main character), shes annoying, whinny and bratty and kinda stupid sometimes and did reckless decisions, I hate being inside her mind tho I keep reminding myself… shes JUST 17 and she acts exactly like her age… so don’t expected her to act like a grown up woman LOL… I also don’t buy the romance, it felt kinda forced and I wish there will be more development on the next book

I understand this is only the 1st book from the series so I expected a more built up worldbuilding and conflicted on the next installment
Profile Image for Steven.
1,088 reviews394 followers
May 7, 2019
Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!!!

Wow, what a ride! I *loved* this book. I didn't expect to love it, but I did. I expected the romance to be typical YA, which it had hints of, but seemed to be a little more realistic in my opinion. I expected the characters to be all tropy, which for the most part, they weren't (and where they were, the author really tried to flip the tropes upside down). I expected the stakes to be lower in the first book, since we knew already that it was going to be a series. Nope, they were pretty high.

Overall, I was impressed at how this book wowed me, because I just really didn't think I'd love it going in. I loved the main characters, but the secondary ones really won me over. The world was awesome - I loved the magic and the gods and the god-marked... I want more of that in the next books!

One downside to loving this one so much? Now I have to wait forever for book two! *sighs heavily*

Highly recommended.

PS- While the main female character and her nation are labeled pirates, they're really just swashbuckling traders that sometimes trade contraband. They don't rape, pillage, steal, kill, etc. They do drink and gamble though. Just a heads up for those going in with the OMG PIRATE GIRL mindset so they don't get their hopes dashed.
Profile Image for Roobie.
680 reviews88 followers
February 7, 2020
⭐️4.5 stars⭐️

This was how it was supposed to feel.
Like standing on a cliff high above a turquoise sea, terrified to jump but desperate for the thrill of the fall.

I'm so happy! I really needed a win and I got it, fiiinally!
Can't wait for more!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
April 3, 2020
East must never meet West.

OMG! Guys, Dark Shores was so freaking good! I am beyond happy that I dove into it and now I'm super excited to dive into the ARC of the second book!! Oh lord, I seriously loved everything about this book.

In it, you will meet Teriana. She is the young heir to the Maarin Triumvirate and she made the biggest mistake of her life: she told someone secrets. Now these are no ordinary secrets, because no one should know anything about them.. unless they are Maarin. So it wasn't super shock-worthy or surprising that it comes to bit her in the ass.

Enter the adventure! She is now a prisoner helping Marcus, who is the commander of the 37th, sail across the sea. Luckily for her, it isn't exactly smooth sailing and they all have to work together in order to make it out alive and safe. It also got my two cuties closer together!

Not going to lie, I shipped the HECK out of Marcus and Teriana from the moment they first met. I could just sense that these two would banter, have chemistry, and develop feelings. So, yeah, I was very happy with how things played out between them. Besides the romance, the entire book was just fantastic. I loved the adventure and everything else I got.

Overall, I'm ready for book 2! I hope it's just as amazing.. if not more.
Profile Image for Melissasfandomworld.
598 reviews118 followers
May 28, 2019
A truly marvelous adventure! One that leaves me with so many unanswered questions regarding the story line though so I don't know if I'm upset about that or excited so I can look forward to the next installment haha. But no, I really cannot wait to see how this story continues.

The world was really interesting and well developed, and it was obvious that it was inspired by Ancient Rome which I loved. The author used some elements and made all of it her own. It also gave me a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean Vibes with the awesome Sea and Ship settings. The (often morally gray) characters were a joy to get acquainted with, there’s a slow burn romance that I really enjoyed see coming to fruition and the writing in general was so addictive and made for a fast paced read.

A really fun first book in a new series. I’d Recommend it to anyone who likes an fast-paced adventurous story-line that has some politcs/warfare added to it, a little bit of romance, some quite gruesome scenes and awesome settings. An adventure set at sea and land, mixed up with some small fantasy parts, that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I loved getting acquainted with this world and these characters so much, and I really cannot wait to get my hands on its sequel!
Profile Image for Shannon.
Author 2 books191 followers
May 2, 2020
Dark Shores:
1. Dark Shores — 3.75⭐
2. Dark Skies — coming soon in 2020!
3. Gilded Serpent — coming soon!
4. Untitled — coming soon!

Blog | Twitter | Instagram

Thank you to the publisher—Tor Teen—for giving me an e-ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You can also read my review here

East must never meet West.
Teriana is an heir to the Maarin Triumvirate who sails with Quincense. She breaks a promise to keep silent about her people’s secret with devastating consequences to save best her friend from an unwanted forced betrothal.
Marcus, a commander of the most notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. He keeps a secret about his previous life before The Thirty-Seventh that he will protect at all costs.
When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest. Both of their fates aligned and they must ally to save their loved ones.

“There are as many paths as there are travelers.”


I was mesmerized by the writing and the world-building. Jensen did an amazing job to grabbed me from the start. Every word from this book built a spectacular image of the world inside my head until, at some point, I was wondering where I was anymore. It felt like I was on the ship with Teriana, sailing across the beautiful and endless sea. I liked how the Celendor Empire was inspired by Ancient Rome, a democratic nation. As much as how interesting the political intrigues in kingdoms are, I think I’d love a change in the plate. And Dark Shores served me the right amount of intrigues, it was pretty good.

The story was told from 2 POV; Teriana’s and Marcus’s. It unrolled smoothly and that made a great plot. All the suspense and fun were scattered with the right proportion throughout the book. Jensen sprinkled all the good stuff little by little until it all just assembled together and blew up into a very amazing scene. This has also happened with the romance. Things were starting from a few glances and lingering looks. But then the tension between the two got thicker, I could feel it suffocating me and made me scream “JUST KISS ALREADY.”

““Just because you can’t do something doesn’t make it impossible.”

The characters were fun to read. Teriana was strong-willed, reckless, soft-hearted. To be honest, I’m not very fond of her, sometimes I found her a bit annoying. But what I liked about her was her stubbornness to fight for her people and for what she believes. Marcus was brave, smart, cold. I enjoyed reading from his POV because I liked the way he thinks and when he planned the battles was awesome. Servius was funny, kind, loyal. I think he’s by far my favorite. Every part became more interesting because of his presence and I hope to see more of him in the second book. Other characters were also interesting but I won’t say much because I want to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like the ending. I didn’t know I’m at the end until I flipped the last page and there was no more. I needed to reread a few lines just to convinced myself that that is the end. It felt too rushed and cut in half finished. This is different from other cliffhangers because this one left me with “what?” that sounded more annoyed rather than left me wanting more.

““We are not free, Teriana. We were never asked whether this was the life we wanted to live. We were merely given the choice: obey or die, and more often than not, obeying means dying.”

Yes, the romance felt kind of forced and there were no real piracy things in this book if that’s what you’re searching for. But overall, I really enjoyed Dark Shores. This book relieved my thirst of some epic adventure on the sea with great conflicts, battles, and a bunch of cool and fun warriors. I wish there will be more awesome stuff in the next book. If you read this review and enjoy stories of amazing sea adventure, enemies to lovers trope, and interesting characters, I recommend you to try reading this book.

Thank you for reading and liking my review! What are your thoughts on this book? I'd love to discuss it in the comments, so don't hesitate to write down your opinion! 😊
Profile Image for Erin Arkin.
1,686 reviews357 followers
May 14, 2019
4.5 stars

Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen is the first book in the Dark Shores series, and I have to tell you, I already can’t wait for the next book in this series.

Teriana is a Maarin and a pirate aboard her mother’s ship…second in command to be exact. Traveling the world with her family, she and her people hold a lot of secrets. Specifically, those that would put the rest of the world in danger from the Celendor Empire. When Teriana finds herself in a situation where she believes her best friend has betrayed her and now, she has to decide whether to give up her family or give up those on the Dark Shore, she decides her family is more important.

I loved Teriana. She was in a horrible situation where there wasn’t really a good decision no matter what she decided. Despite her circumstance, she stood by her decision and did whatever she could do to thwart the path forward for Marcus and his legion. With that said, she couldn’t help to be drawn to Marcus and even make friends of the soldiers around her as she spent so much time with them. In the long run, this opens up the door for some heartbreak though as she is keeping some secrets right alongside Marcus.

Marcus is the commander of the most notorious Thirty-Seventh, a legion within the Celendor Empire. He definitely has not had an easy life and his circumstances clearly dictate his life. He may have power and strength with his legion but in the end, he is a tool for the empire and unless he wants his men/friends to suffer, he will follow through with what the empire tells him. His current situation means that he has to force Teriana to give him what he needs (information) so he can accomplish his mission no matter what he really wants. As he and Teriana become closer, they learn more about each other and that only makes things more difficult. I loved how as the story progressed, there were more layers to Marcus and we find out he isn’t necessarily everything the empire wants you to think he is.

I expect the secrets that Marcus and Teriana are keeping are really what is going to get them in trouble soon. I kind of wished that the connection between what happened to Lydia and Teriana’s current situation with Marcus had been exposed as well as Marcus’ role in the whole thing. I am bracing myself for that to come…hopefully in the next book. With that said, the romance bit is done well. Both of these characters are aware of the limitations of any relationship they currently have and despite that, they still have a connection and I can’t wait to see what happens next for them as they have some pretty big obstacles headed their way.

The guy who is pulling all the strings, (i.e. the bad guy) is really trying to grab as much power as he can and that includes in another part of the world. He is definitely not likable and while he appears to be biding his time on some things, he isn’t afraid to threaten and blackmail anyone to get what he wants.

The secondary characters are well done too. I thought Teriana’s mother, aunt, and friends were developed enough to support the story and they all had a purpose. Whether it be to add context to the repercussions of decisions Teriana made or provide guidance on figuring out a solution. Lydia has a pivotal role in the story, but I did want to know more about what happens with her as it felt a bit abrupt. I hope we get more of that storyline in a future book.

Overall, I enjoyed this first book in the series very much and I thought Jensen did a great job creating the world these characters inhabit. The action is almost non-stop in this book and it includes epic battles, dangerous voyages, and gods that might have an agenda. Layer all of that with some romancey parts and some great characters and I’m in! I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series and encourage you to pick this up when you can.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy in exchange for an honest review!
December 24, 2022
“There are as many paths as there are travelers”.

Básicamente quise leer este libro porque me lo vendieron como Piratas del Caribe, ¿vale? Y uno de mis principales problemas con este libro es que la palabra “pirata” aparece, literalmente, una vez dentro de toda la narración. En fin, aquí tenemos la historia de un reino que está escondido en las Dark Shores. Son personas y marineros que nunca han compartido cómo llegar a esos lugares y son los únicos que saben cómo cruzar el Endless Sea. La protagonista, que se llama Teriana, es la segunda al mando de un barco que se llama el Quincense. Una de las grandes reglas por las que se rige esta gente es que el Oeste nunca puede juntarse con el Este, pero luego pasa algo relacionado con un compromiso matrimonial forzado de la mejor amiga de Teriana, y eso implica que tenga que traicionar esa regla.

Por otra parte, está otra persona que es del bando opuesto, llamado Marcus, que es un comandante. Pero entonces una especie de senador, porque este libro está algo inspirado en la antigua Roma, está chantajeando a Marcus, entonces también tiene que embarcarse en una misión. Sin embargo, después el Imperio se entera de la existencia de las Dark Shores y secuestra a la tripulación de Teriana para que haga ciertas cosas. Y luego también se cruzan los caminos de Teriana y Marcus, que se supone que son enemigos, pero como ahora tienen un enemigo común, pues “el enemigo de mi enemigo es mi amigo”. Total, empiezan a trabajar juntos.

Ahora, les juro que todo lo que les estoy diciendo es algo súper general y no les estoy dañando la trama. Dicho esto, para mí, este fue un libro que se quedó cortísimo en todo el sentido de la palabra. Le faltó muchísimo desarrollar a los personajes para poder entender sus motivaciones, para entender por qué el Este y el Oeste nunca se podían conocer, para saber qué carajos estaba pasando. Además, a mí me prometieron piratas y no vi ni medio.

O sea, el gancho del libro fue que las personas lo compraran pensando que sería una historia de fantasía y romance tipo Piratas del Caribe, pero realmente no tiene nada que ver con eso. Creo que esto es algo que las personas de marketing de las editoriales deberían tener en cuenta. Es decir, no sirve de nada mentir para vender un libro porque los lectores lo compramos por esa promesa y luego no encontramos lo que prometieron, así que la decepción y las reseñas van a ser peores por esa razón. Además, también lo vendieron como una historia de enemies to lovers entre Marcus y Teriana, pero sus interacciones no me parecieron propicias para crear un romance. Es más, creo que no tenían absolutamente nada de química.

Sé que esta es una saga bastante larga, pero realmente no me quedan ganas de continuarla, así que, nada, otra más a la pila de sagas abandonadas. Me sentí engañada.
Profile Image for Athena (OneReadingNurse).
731 reviews104 followers
May 20, 2019
Thank you so much to NetGalley, Macmillan - Tom Doherty Associates & Tor Teen for the eARC of Dark Shores in exchange for an honest review.

For the most part, this is a quick read and a fast flowing book that kept me interested. I really liked the book until she lost me with one particular scene, which I will explain in a bit. The world is set in a roman conqueror-esque era where the Maarin traders and the Dark Shores are out of bounds....for now.

"East must not meet West"

Teriana, the heir to the Maarin Triumvirate, and Marcus, a feared Legate, both end up doing what they feel they need to do in order to save themselves and their loved ones when corruption turns it's eye on the Dark Shores. AKA the west.

I did like how the gods were portrayed and how the magic was done. Book 2 is set up for a very interesting villian. I also liked the morally gray zone of each of the main characters, as their relationship and understanding of each other deepens. Just enough doubt is shone on Marcus' reputation that I was willing to give him a chance, and I liked his character arc.

I just can't ship the relationship itself though. We are talking a slowburning hate to love, but does it make sense? Teriana is a fire breathing dragon of a strong main character, I feel like she would have stayed spitting mad at Marcus as long as her ship and family was kept off in left field somewhere.

My other sore point was the miserable attempt at intubation that was made. As a nurse it just drives me nuts when the guy in ths scenario would be dead. Now, as a later edit to this review, I actually had a pretty great conversation with the author who did a surprising amount of early medical research - to the point that I could be less irked with this scene if more info had been provided. If she had explained how the early technique was done, I would have been lovingly enthralled with the book.

I am giving it a strong 3 stars and will definitely read the next book. I would recommend to anyone who likes fantasy, young adult reads, epic adventures, and strong female leads
Profile Image for AtenRa.
545 reviews86 followers
May 20, 2019
What a pleasant surprise this book was! I went into it after years of not reading much of YA fantasy (too many duds in the past) and expecting the worst because of all the hype.
I am so glad I was wrong.

Plot wise, Jensen nailed it. I really liked her world building - intricate enough to be interesting, but not too complex to be confusing. Although I have to admit it was hard for me to get into in the beginning, but I mostly attribute that to my long absence from fantasy. Also, I am not a fan of "explaining as you go", as I very professionally call it, and Dark Shores was definitely like that. There is no introduction to the world, you get thrown in it right away, and I caught myself flipping the pages to see if there is anything I missed in the beginning. But that goes away quickly as events start unravelling and we get into the characters more.

For me, the book really picked up the pace and explored its characters from when they arrived in Arinoquia.
I instantly liked Marcus right away, his story was so well thought up, it was hard not to. I loved his personality and the way he carried himself among his men, exuding power and authority but also showing sympathy and compassion. Most of all though I loved the way he talked and his ever so careful choice of words. I know it is an odd thing to like, but you'll understand when you read it.
I liked Teriana well enough, although there were some instances where her actions did not really make that much sense to me. I get that she is conflicted, but I didn't really see how that conflict came to be so quickly. Contrary to Marcus who had no opinion of Maarin before he met her, she is brought up to despise godless Empire people, no more than the legatus of the most lethal legion in existence, Marcus. Not that it was insta love or anything, not even close. However, I felt that Marcus's attraction to her was more justified than hers to him.
I have to say though, not having their physical attributes pointed out all the time was such a breath of fresh air. Not everything needs to be sexualised. And that is coming from me!

That ending though...😱 It's not a cliff, but it will definitely leave you wanting more.

If Spartacus had a YA brother, it would be Dark Shores. It doesn't get any better than that.

Side note: Dark Shores is not a book about pirates, at least not as we know them. Granted, you catch a glimpse of the sailors' life at sea, but they are not your typical cutthroat pillagers. On the contrary, Maarin are peaceful people, who avoid trouble and just looking to trade. They are opportunists sure, but they would never harm just for the sake of it. So if you are looking for a swashbuckling adventure in the high seas, this might not be the book for you.

Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,145 reviews245 followers
June 12, 2020
Huh! I liked this way more than I thought I would. Most people I've talked to didn't like it but wow! Despite it using tropes I'm not a huge fan of (mc constantly blames everything on themselves when they had no control & Stockholm syndrome-like romance) yet I really loved this! I enjoyed the cast. It was a bit big at the start but once their personalities free it was easier to tell everyone apart. One of the evil characters specifically said something that stopped me and made me think because it seems pretty true in today's world: most people will vote for their self interest before they vote for the interests of all.

I'm always interested in taking on the event of colonisation so the plot was a big reason I picked this up. I am very curious to see how that is going to develop over the rest of the series because we're in the manipulation stage right now.
Profile Image for Jemailyn.
479 reviews
November 25, 2020

Teriana was the daughter of a Pirate Captain, who was held captive along with her crew to be used as leverage for the Celendor Empire to enter the hidden and mysterious lands in the West. Marcus was the commander of the 37th legion of the Celendor Empire, who was tasked to invade that said lands in the West.

The story had a typical captor/captive relationship, but there were political intrigue and magical fantasy in the plot that made the story more captivating for me. Teriana and Marcus both had their own ulterior motives and secrets that, if unraveled and if they went against these secrets, might hurt not only themselves but also those that matter to them. And it wasn't just the relationship between the two main characters that's also interesting, most of the side characters were.

This was something stupid. This was a mistake. This was folly.

She was going to do it anyway. Wrapping her arms around his neck, Teriana rested her cheek against his and said, "It's enough".

Overall, the story was fascinating, but really, it wasn't enough. I need to know more.
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