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River of Shadows

[A quick note: I got this edition from Bookish Box adult’s subscription. It only comes regularly in paperback so I always love when I can get a SE hardcover. It’s got the most gorgeous reverse dust jacket. I’m showing off the inside, but I’ll have a photo at the bottom with the outside. I had never heard of this before getting it in my box. Yay for new discoveries. This author has more than 70 published books! I can’t wait to devour more of her work.]

“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐦𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐞.” —Karina Halle

Deliciously dark fantasy? Check. Lots of spice? Check. Finnish mythology? Check. River of Shadows is the start to a series that will take you deep into the underworld, give you all the Beauty and the Beast vibes, and satisfy your naughty heart. Hannah travels to Finland to attend her father’s funeral, but what she finds is more sinister. Her father’s casket is empty! He has disappeared into the underworld. Hannah will do whatever it takes to rescue him, even trade herself. Death takes her up on her offer, dreaming up all sorts of delicious ways she can pay for her father’s life.

Did I enjoy this one? YES! Especially the smut. Were there a few things I wasn’t as crazy about? Also yes. But overall it was a really good read and I will be continuing with the series.

I loved the Finnish mythology aspect of this book. It added an unusual backbone that intrigued me. Death’s family rules the underworld and they all have their own jobs, with different gods being aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, etc. Gods and Goddesses of the forest, river, water, air, sun, moon, etc. Journeying through the underworld along the River of Shadows and beyond was exciting. While I don’t know much—okay, let’s be realistic, nothing at all—about Finnish mythology, I felt like I learned a few things, even despite this being fiction.

Okay…I am getting jaded on Beauty and the Beast retellings. Especially the kinds of retellings that stick too rigidly to the mold. I would say this one stuck pretty closely, but there were a few tweaks that I appreciated. The book doesn’t span the entire BATB story, but ends in the middle, leaving the second half to be completed in book two.

Speaking of the ending. WHAT THE ACTUAL FECK?! I’m getting more and more annoyed with books that end in cliff hangers. Don’t get me wrong, if done correctly, I don’t mind them. If there’s a cliff, I would like to see some sort of closure paired with it. You know…so that I feel like I’ve reached the end of a journey. Otherwise it feels like the story was simply cut right down the middle. That feels like an incomplete book. NOT A FAN! This book did exactly that, which is why it’s not getting five stars from me. Naughty book! **insert angry face here** The good news is, the second book is out, so I was able to dive straight in. Phew!

The characters are interesting. Death is obviously a morally gray character and as far as morally gray, he’s done quite well. There’s definitely a tortured, brooding, lonely vibe about him. HELLO. HAWT!!

Rasmus, however?? Nahhhh. I disliked Rasmus from the beginning. But I also felt his character was a little choppy. He was more likable when we first meet him, and it feels like he does this two-faced-shift as soon as Rasmus and Hannah reach the underworld. It didn’t feel like a smooth transition. 10/10 wasn’t a fan. I think it was more writing style/execution than the character. Needless to say, he rubbed me pretty wrong the moment they entered the underworld. I even got a little frustrated with Hannah for trusting him so much. But, eh, no one is perfect, huh?

Hannah’s character? She’s okay. Likable. The thing that frustrated me most about her was the constant pining to get back to her world. There are times where she’s mature and says, “Yes, this was my choice. I gave my life in exchange for my father, so I’m going to suck it up and stand by it.” And then there were times where she’s like, “No I just want to figure out how I can sneak back home.” I guess I’m a “woman of my world” kind of gal. So if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it, and make the most of it. But since this was supposed to be just like BATB, Belle does the same thing, right? She tries to escape and get free of the beast. Except in this case, the beast is like a super hot god and they’re f*cking. So….

Anyway, overall I really enjoyed this one! I’m glad it was included in Booksih Box because I had never heard of it and probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise. So yay! I love getting introduced to new books. Not only that, I have now explored some of this authors other works and read several other books of hers that I’ve absolutely ADORED! So, I’m drinking the Kool-aid!

𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟒.𝟓/𝟓⭐️


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