by Karina Halle
Series: (Underworld Gods,
Published by Karina Halle, Self-published
Release Date: January 27, 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Format Read: ARC
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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.
I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I have been so excited to read this book! I love mythology of all types, and Finnish is not one I have read much into, so I like that it wasn’t the usual Greek mythology, as is so often the case now days. I also love when Karina Halle writes darker books – she is so great at creating a dark, atmospheric world, and her horror novels are my absolute favorite.
This book really jumps right into the insanity. Rasmus is one of the first few characters we meet – and the first one I find truly questionable. He is such an unreliable character and I don’t trust him at all. Hanna meets him on her journey, as well as a slew of other characters that I hope are brought back up again in the next books…. But my goodness are the other beings in this world ethereal and beautiful! Loviatar, Vellamo, Tellervo…. they sound so beautiful in a haunting way. Really everything about this place sounds hauntingly beautiful, and her journey to Deaths castle to find her father was a great opportunity for world building.
I was surprised by Death. I didn’t expect him to be so sarcastic and funny. His deadpan humor was so much my jam. And SO sexy! However – and this is just one of my small annoyances with the book (which I overall loved), but it felt like the humor and all made it hard for me to take his darker moments more seriously. Like I want, NEED him to be some level of scary! Also, in regards to Death, my other issue is the big PROPHECY. It was mentioned multiple times with no real follow through or clarification on the exact details. Like no one broke it all down for us. Im sure there is more to be revealed later, but I feel like I could have used that in this book as a way to make me more invested in their relationship and the story in general.
I do wish Hanna and Death spent more time together before having an almost exclusively physical relationship. There wasn’t enough of the falling in love feeling. But the sexual relationship was on fire though! Then when we suddenly get to the arranged marriage portion of the story, I swear the book was suddenly over! This was one of my other minor issues – the end felt so sudden and rushed. I understand leaving on a cliffhanger, and that this is a series, but I still felt like there could have been more in this book. Everything felt like it all happened SO FAST!
I absolutely loved the stunning, dark world that has been created so far with River of Shadows. I’m intrigued by the characters and this PROPHECY (Im shaking my fist at the prophecy that I don’t know enough about!) I have so many questions still (and waiting to see what happens with that Rasmus – I’m giving him hard side – eye), and all of that just has me very impatiently anticipating the next book. Im very much looking forward to be back in this world.
AND! Very helpful – there is a MAP and a PRONUNCIATION GUIDE at the beginning!