Beyond the Shadowed Earth

Page Street. Jan. 2020. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781624148200.
Gr 8 Up–A companion to Meyer’s debut novel, Beneath the Haunting Sea, this stand-alone adventure fantasy is perfect for fans of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen of Attolia and ambitious female protagonists. Nine years ago, Eda made a deal with the god Tuer to be Empress of half the world and usurped the heroine of Beneath. Now, Eda’s power is slipping through her fingers. Between conniving barons and her own tyrannical sensibilities, Eda is trapped in a political quagmire that keeps her from holding up her end of the god’s bargain—and may cost her Niren, her best friend, whose soul she put up as collateral for her crown. While her violent internal monologue initially sets up Eda as the villain of this story, her character quickly develops to be more than her ambitions as she interacts with a large cast of characters. The world-building is intricately woven into the political machinations of Eda’s empire, with the nuances of the world’s polytheistic religion raising the stakes of the story. Meyer’s deft descriptions give the novel a fairy-tale quality, as Eda must fight her way through the labyrinthine Circles of the Living, the Dead, Time, and Sorrow to save Niren—and herself. After all, she never bargained on how long she would get to be Empress.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for libraries in need of character-driven fantasy with a morally gray cast and divine interference, in the vein of Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief.

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