Beyond the Shadowed Earth
Joanna Ruth Meyer
Page Street Books
Published January 14, 2020
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.
So one of the things I love to find in books is a faith-positive atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be a story about faith or promoting faith, though I’m not opposed to that either. Like most people, it does bug me if the message feels pushy or preachy.
BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH definitely scratched that faith-positive-story itch for me. I liked that Eda wrestled a lot with her faith. She had very specific perceptions of who the gods were and what they were obligated to do for her. Yeah, that can’t possibly backfire. Ha.
So at the beginning of the book, Eda is this powerful, proud, sometimes cruel empress who, underneath her harsh exterior, is terrified of losing power. I had a harder time connecting with her at the beginning of the book. She does some ugly things.
But as the story progresses and she begins to understand what her bargain with her god means, she becomes a different person. As that change began to happen, I got much more deeply invested in the story.
The faith-positive theme and strong-willed heroine reminded me of GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. I think readers who enjoyed THE NEVER TILTING WORLD by Rin Chupeco, which also shows a lot of interaction between the gods and humankind, will like the way that BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH is told.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
There are some class and culture clashes between different countries and people of faiths.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Eda worships the god Tuer, and has made a bargain with him. She meets others who serve him and who serve other gods and goddesses. Supernatural things seem to follow her– guiding her in the direction of the god’s plan for her. There’s an interesting heirarchy– the One created the gods and spirits and seems to rule over them. Some spirits were banished for rebelling against the gods and the One, and not oppose them.
Some references to torture. Some graphic battle violence and death. Situations of peril.
Occasionally, Eda drinks wine to escape her problems.
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