I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
eARC: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: April 8th 2014
Series: Age of Legends #1
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.
Moria and Ashyn are twin sisters with a most crucial role. They are respectively the keeper and the seeker on the Forest of the Dead and their role is to keep the population safe from the angry spirits roaming its depth. Each year, on a specific night, the seeker walks into the forest with a small group to seek the bodies of the exiles (criminals and such) and give them a proper burial to bring them peace. This year, Ashyn will go into the forest alone, without her mentor, and nothing could’ve prepared her – nor Moria- for what awaits them in the shadows.
What an amazing read! I’m a fan of Kelley Armstrong (I’m currently reading her Woman of the Otherworld series and have read both her YA trilogies, Darkest Powers & Darkness Rising), and this book is honestly completely different from anything else I’ve read from her. The tone is actually very dark despite some humor here and there, and I have to confess the novel gave me the creeps. I even had trouble falling asleep one night after reading a particular scene at around 20% of the book. This novel is honestly bordering on horror, especially at the beginning, but the scary factor was brought down a bit once both girls set out on their respective quests.
I truly enjoyed the very unique lore Armstrong brought to the table. In the girls’ kingdom, there are three pairs of twin sisters holding the role of keeper & seeker: One at the palace, one at the forest of the dead, and one is roaming around. Their role is of the utmost importance in this world where spirits hold great powers and those honored girls are chosen in a rather gruesome way. Each of them also have a bonded pet and I thought it was a really nice touch, especially considering their important to the plot. This world is also filled with magic and mythical creatures the likes you’ve never heard of and it was amazing, and sometimes scary, to discover them.
An aspect I particularly liked is how different Moria and Ashyn are despite their being twins. Moria is a big-mouthed arrogant fighter with a passion for story-telling and a weak spot for children. Her vision of boy-girl interaction is also very technical, especially compared to Ashyn’s who as a very romantic spirit. The latter is also soft spoken and of a much more intellectual type, let’s say she much preferred healing classes to combat ones. Both of them are amazing in their own way and their opposite personalities are balancing each other perfectly.
The girls were split after a tragic event and spend most of their journey apart, each paired with a boy. Gavril, Moria’s partner, is a brooding secretive and sexy soldier with an attitude to rival Moria’s. I actually really liked him and after their journey, he is the biggest mystery I can’t wait to discover in the following novel. Ronan, Ashyn’s companion, is an exile who survived the winter in the forest of the dead and he also is very secretive. He appears and disappears as pleases him, but he is always there when Ash needs him. I had a soft spot for him and I want to see more from him as well.
In this novel, the characters are facing one long journey filled with mysteries and dangers and while the novel was a real page-turner, I feel like it’s an introduction for what’s to come. The chess pieces have been set in place and I honestly can’t wait to see the big battle unfold. I was really dumbstruck by the cliffhanger conclusion and I just feel there is a lot more to discover than the bits Armstrong gave us. I don’t know when book 2 will release, but I hope I’ll get an early copy because the wait might just kill me.