The Crystal Shore by Jo de-Lancey
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Meet, Killian O’Shea, the unforgettable lead in Jo de-Lancy’s epic adventure novel The Crystal Shore: Book One of the Tempered Souls Series. On a quest to find a mysterious cure to help the father of Ren Thorncliffe, Killian soon encounters Captain Lily Rothbone and her wild crew of pirates. Double champion of BookFest Spring 2023 The Crystal Shore won first place in both the Epic Fantasy and Magic, Myths, and Legends categories.
Written with a sure storyteller’s voice, de-Lancy brings us into a highly immersive world. You can practically taste the ale in the mugs and smell the salt of the sea. This is a book that truly captures what it must have felt like living alongside Killian and company.
Bucking the normal trend of kicking right into high action and the main journey, The Crystal Shore takes its time early on getting to know Killian and Ren, and some of the other characters. That’s not to say stuff doesn’t happen. Right away, Ren’s poisoned after he finds Killian and is practically brought back from the dead through a potion gained from a mystical water being! There’s lots of great back-and-forth dialogue throughout and each character has their own voice, which is a pleasure to read.
Getting to know these characters is important as it gives a good reason and motivation for Killian to partake in such an epic quest. He’s seemingly rough and gruff on the outside, but when he reconnects with Lily, their history unveils a little bit more of his backstory. He’s been a little directionless and sees helping Ren find the mysterious Gramarye, sequestered on an uncharted island, might help him start to give something positive back to the world.
As they set sail on Lily Rathbone’s ship The Tempest––a character of its own––we meet her crew. Blake, Finn, and Tom are the mainstays, but the most intriguing has to be Lily’s right hand, Raven.
After they’re unable to get onto the island, they learn they must go to the Demon’s Drop, a hole deep in the sea that leads to another realm. After a death-defying journey through Demon’s Drop, Killian finds himself in an entirely different world. This reminded me of classic high fantasy such as The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe with a whole lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs thrown in. On the Crystal Shore of this new world, Killian meets a race of beings called Cornelians. One in particular named Cassius befriends him and Killian comes face to face with Nesta, their queen, who can help him to get onto the island and retrieve the Gramarye. Of course, there are tests he must pass in order to prove his worth.
There are echoes of many classic literary stories, such as Moby Dick and The Legend of Blackbeard. Also, the ancient tale of Davy Jones’ Locker is definitely an influence, only in this case, the bottom of the ocean isn’t a final resting place, but a portal. Once Killian meets the Cornelians, it seems like the story shifts 180 degrees into fantasy and reminded me a lot of Jules Verne by way of Avatar. Some pretty wild imagination at play here. Overall? This is an excellent read for lovers of high-adventure fantasy looking to fall into a fantastical world filled with unexpected twists and unforgettable characters. I’m very much looking forward to Book Two to see how some of this turns out.
“An excellent read for lovers of high-adventure fantasy looking to fall into a fantastical world filled with unexpected twists and unforgettable characters.”
“Written with a sure storyteller’s voice, de-Lancy brings us into a highly immersive world. You can practically taste the ale in the mugs and smell the salt of the sea.”