ARC Reviews,  Reviews

Karina Halle’s River of Shadows ARC Review

Thank you to Karina Halle and the team at Valentine PR for the advance reader copy of River of Shadows. This story releases on January 30th!

This book intrigues me so damn much. From the minute Karina started to tease this story I wanted it in my hands.

River of Shadows is an adult dark fantasy romance based on Finnish mythology and the underworld of Tuonela.

When 24-year old Hanna Heikkinen’s estranged father dies, she reluctantly makes the trip to Northern Finland for his funeral. Being in the enchanting land of ice and snow feels miles away from Hanna’s busy life back in Los Angeles, especially under the complicated circumstances.

But when Hanna discovers that her father’s body is missing, that’s when things really get weird. A mysterious man, Rasmus, tells Hanna the truth: her father was a powerful shaman who went into Tuonela, the Realm of the Dead, in order to barter for more life, and has been held captive by Tuoni, the God of Death. The only way her father can be freed is if she travels with Rasmus into the mythical underworld to rescue him.

Willing to do anything to have a second-chance with her father, Hanna accompanies Rasmus into the dark and bloody realm, traveling via the River of Shadows, stalked by dangerous creatures, monsters, and the living dead, until they finally come into the haunted kingdom ruled by Death and his family.

Only for her to be captured and held prisoner by the God of Death himself.

Turns out Death is intrigued by Hanna’s beauty and fierceness and makes a bargain with her. If she marries him, and spends an eternity in the Realm of the Dead as his wife, he’ll set her father free.

But even the most noble sacrifices come with hidden costs, and Hanna’s might involve the most unexpected of all things: her heart.”

Check out my more detailed thoughts below…

  • Characters: Our heroine is Hanna, and she is super easy to connect with right away. Born in Finland and then once her parents divorced, her mother whisked her away to California. Despite growing up away from her father, their father-daughter relationship is a huge plot driver of the story. Hanna loves her father deeply so much that she is willing to risk her life to save him. The next important character is Death himself. The god of death rules over the underworld of Tuonela and is naturally the intimidating, alpha type. I loved all the subtleties about his character, such as when he was in a bad most, which was often the weather who be all dark and dreary. I also thought it was interesting how he had his own version of Midas’ touch, but instead of turning things to gold anything he touched would die.
  • Setting: This world is the most expansive Karina has written yet! The world is loosely based on Finnish mythology. The story begins with Hanna, the California girl arriving in Northern Finland for her father’s funeral. Once there Hanna is whisked into Tuonela, the Finnish version of the underworld. The land of the dead is the best part of this story! Karina did a phenomenal job bringing it to life, the perfect blend of spooky and scary yet still alluring. Any reader will want to dive deeper and uncover the mysteries of Tuonela.
  • Pacing: The story moves at a really good pace. Karina laid down much of the groundwork for who Hanna is right away, allowing instead for the setting to drive the story rather than revelations about the characters. I found much of the story quite predictable, as a romance reader that does not always bother me, as being shocked is not my primary concern. As this is a dark fantasy story I would have appreciated maybe a bit more surprises, yet at the same time, I do not see another way this story could have ended.
  • Romance: This was quite the relationship. Hanna and Death end up in bed together a lot in this book. There are some scenes with dubious consent so if that is not your thing you will not enjoy this story. I was not immediately captured by this romance and I do think I need another instalment to get really hooked on it. I really liked how Karina depicted Death falling for Hanna pretty hard, how much his initial infatuation became something much greater. Hanna’s reluctance to give in to her whims when it comes to a relationship with the literal god of death made complete sense and I loved her inner push and pull. How she weighed the immense pleasure she could get from him against the fact that this man was holding her prisoner.

River of Shadows receives four out of five stars.

You can pick up the story below…

Amazon | Amazon Worldwide

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Thank you again to Karina Halle and her team for the review opportunity. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog!

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