by Joanna Ruth Meyer
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.
Beyond the Shadowed Earth is a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea. You don’t have to have read SEA to enjoy EARTH, but there are some SEA nods in EARTH, and you’ll know more of Eda’s character from SEA, as she’s actually one of the villains in SEA.
As always, Meyer has a beautiful and unique writing style. Her books are almost refreshing to read simply because her prose is unlike most YA books–honestly, most books actually. Like SEA, EARTH has a legend/lore feeling to the story.
I couldn’t quite get Eda and Niren’s relationship. At the beginning of the novel, Eda’s friendship with and love for Niren is used to show a softer, less cutthroat side of Eda. But it didn’t quite work for me–I didn’t know why Eda cared about Niren or what made Niren special. So Niren felt a little bit like a plot device at first. However, as the book progressed and Eda and Niren’s relationship became more complicated, it seemed to work better.
Heads up: the labyrinth aspect of finding Tuer doesn’t start until over halfway through the book. Normally, it bothers me when the back cover copy makes the plot pacing seem different than it is, but it actually didn’t this time. I think it’s because I enjoyed the first half of the book, which focuses on Eda balancing dangerous politics, all while trying to avoid Tuer’s wrath.
I honestly did get a little lost when Eda actually enters the labyrinth. Though I did read EARTH pretty fast, so I might have not grasped all the details given.
This review seems pretty negative so far, so let me clarify: I enjoyed EARTH. It wasn’t my favorite of Meyer’s novels (Echo North! ❤️), but I’ll read it again someday. Meyer is a fantastic writer.
Cautions: five swear words; five kisses; light/moderate romance; semi-graphic moderate/heavy violence; brief mentions of characters drinking and being drunk*
*It’s been a while since I finished EARTH, so I may have forgotten a caution.
**A quick note: Like in SEA, the plot of EARTH is tied closely to the mythology Meyer has created for this world. But like I said in SEA, the mythology feels Greek/Roman inspired, and there is the One who is over the gods. The gods are more like elementals or powerful beings that still have an authority over them. I personally didn’t have a problem reading the strong mythology elements.