Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperCollins, 416 pages
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
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.
Magic, mystery, adventure, and a hint of romance all play a part in this amazing beginning to a new series! The story alternates between each sister's POV and I enjoyed getting to know each sister. Even though they're twins, they're very different. Moira is fierce and tough, she's a fighter, although she does have a soft heart, telling stories to the children of their village. Ashyn is more of a dreamer, she's shy, wanting to find romance, and she doesn't know how to fight at all. They each are bound to spiritual animals, a wildcat and a hound, who protect them. Loved the animals.
When something goes terribly wrong with the Seeking (where Ashyn finds the bodies of the damned and puts their spirits to rest), the girls are separated and then on the run. Moira is accompanied by Gavril, a warrior guard who's very stoic and hard to read. He's prickly, argumentative, and "confuse[s] debate with conversation." I wish the author had written a chapter or two from his POV, but we slowly learn more about him through his actions, and I admit, I have a soft spot for him. He's got tattoos, by the way. According to Moira:
"There were few physical shortcomings a man could possess that could not, in her mind, be compensated for by good warrior ink. She glanced over at him and had to admit there were blessed few physical shortcomings that needed compensating for. It was a shame to waste such a face and physique on such a surly--and, yes, exceedingly difficult--boy."
Ashyn is accompanied by Ronan, who was exiled to the Forest of the Dead. He's much more open than Gavril and provides some humor to this dark tale. Loved him too!
During this journey, the sisters encounter one horrible thing after another (shadow stalkers and death worms, to name just a few), and the action is pretty non-stop. There are twists and turns, and a cliffhanger ending that leaves me anxious for the next book. I have to know what happens next! I really enjoyed this one, highly recommend.
Posted by: Pam