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Beneath the Haunting Sea #2

Beyond the Shadowed Earth

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It has always been Eda’s dream to become empress, no matter the cost. Haunted by her ambition and selfishness, she’s convinced that the only way to achieve her goal is to barter with the gods. But all requests come with a price and Eda bargains away the soul of her best friend in exchange for the crown.

Years later, her hold on the empire begins to crumble and her best friend unexpectedly grows sick and dies. Gnawed by guilt and betrayal, Eda embarks on a harrowing journey to confront the very god who gave her the kingdom in the first place. However, she soon discovers that he’s trapped at the center of an otherworldly labyrinth and that her bargain with him is more complex than she ever could have imagined.

Set in the same universe as Joanna’s debut, Beneath the Haunting Sea, Beyond the Shadowed Earth combines her incredible world building and lush prose with a new, villainous lead.

400 pages

First published January 14, 2020

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About the author

Joanna Ruth Meyer

5 books710 followers
Joanna Ruth Meyer is the author of the critically-acclaimed Echo North, as well as the companion novel duology Beneath the Haunting Sea and Beyond the Shadowed Earth. She writes stories about fierce teens finding their place in the world, fighting to change their fate, save the ones they love, or carve out a path to redemption.

Joanna lives with her dear husband and son, a rascally feline, and an enormous grand piano named Prince Imrahil in Mesa, Arizona. As often as she can, she escapes the desert heat and heads north to the mountains, where the woods are always waiting.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 133 reviews
March 5, 2020

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DNF @ p. 112

So, funny story with this ARC. I accidentally requested the sequel before I'd read the first book. It doesn't really match the cover of the first book (how annoying is that, btw? My compulsive self is scREAMING) so I had no way of realizing they were connected. Luckily, I am a compulsive book hoarder and I happened to own a copy of book one. "Hoorah!" I thought to myself. "I can binge-read these fantasy novels and have myself a grand ol' time!"

I picked up THE HAUNTING SEA, eager with anticipation, and then the book cackled menacingly and said, "Foolish Nenia, did you not realize that you were reading Basic Girl YA™? Come, and marvel at my overwrought prose, and watch me fall in love with my own flowery writing at the cost of character development and any actual semblance of plot. Watch in awe as the heroine tells us all how special she is while embarking upon not just a simple love triangle, but a magnificent Love Square™!"

And I screamed and said, "NOOOOOO" but it was already too late. I had agreed to review BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH and there was no escaping from my fate.

Funnily enough, I said in my review of the first book that Talia was such an awful protagonist that I'd rather read the perspective of the villain, Eda. I did not realize that I would get my wish with BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH, which is actually written from Eda's POV! So if you think I was being facetious in my first review... well, I was, but not about that. I actually thought that was a pleasant surprise and quite a daring move on behalf of the author, swapping narrators mid-game.

And Eda is a better narrator!! I was right! I love being right!

To be fair to BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH, it is also a much, much better book than the first, which was awful. Eda has the makings of an interesting character. She's morally ambiguous and ambitious, and it's cool to see her side of the story and how she machinates in her court. The writing is just-- okay, it's really not good. It's so flowery and there are way too many passages when not enough is happening to really engage the reader enough to finish. My one friend who read this book had similar problems with the writing, so I know it wasn't just me who feels this way (whew).

I'm giving this book a generous 1.5 stars because I feel like I'd probably give it a 2 or a 2.5 if I could be bothered to read it to the end. This just smacks too much of Sarah J. Maas or Renee Ahdieh for me to really like it. If you're a fan of those books and other Basic Girl YAs™, you might enjoy this. Otherwise, maybe not. Kudos to this book, though, for being that one book in a thousand that truly is better than its prequel. I only wish that Eda had been the narrator of both books and not just this one.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

1.5 stars
Profile Image for Joan He.
Author 6 books7,138 followers
Want to read
May 15, 2019
have you seen the cover? have you read the excerpt and pitch? because I have and I am DECEASED
Profile Image for Madison.
422 reviews4,825 followers
February 13, 2020
*ARC received from Page Street in exchange for an honest review*

"The gods will have their payment"

Beyond the Shadowed Earth is a story about longing to belong and the true pain of sorrow and loneliness.

As a child, Eda mad a pact with the god Tuer to become Empress in exchange for her life in service. Nine years later, Eda's control over her empire is being to wane and coup is stirring. When Eda is betrayed by her god she sets off on a dangerous journey to hunt him down and demand retribution. But Eda's past is full of sins, and the gods are losing control to a mysterious power. What started as a journey for revenge may become the last journey Eda makes.

It has been a month since I read this book and I am just now sitting down to write the review. I can honestly say that while the first 50% of this book didn't "wow" me, the last 50% did. It is strange when you read a book and the first half is 2.5 stars but the last half is 4.5 stars. A lot of this comes from the pacing and the world building bogging down the story. While I grew to understand and appreciate Eda, she was very unlikable for a majority of the book.

I really loved the mythology in this book. Meyer managed to weave an entire mythological system full of rich and intricate lore that blew me away. I was always pulled in by this part of the story and wanting to learn more about how the gods functioned and their powers. It was a great concept and watching Ede revere and hate them at the same time kept me intrigued in the story-line.

Finally, I want to state that I adored ADORED the ending and it made me extremely emotional. This is not your typical standalone fantasy HEA, and if that is not something you like, this book really wont be for you. However, I thought that it fit in perfectly with the story arc and it tempted me to bump up the star rating. When I step back and look at the story as a whole, it was meticulously crafted from the first page and riddled with foreshadowing and deceit. I love that when you strip this story to its bone it is about a girl who just wants to belong and how that pain has shaped her. I wish I could say more, but alas, I do not want to spoil anything.

All this being said, I still really want to read more from Joanna Ruth Meyer. She is an author who is able to instill pure sorrow in her reads and gets them to feel the pain of the characters. That is truly special.
Profile Image for Kira.
1,242 reviews132 followers
December 11, 2019
After reading and being pleasantly surprised by Echo North earlier this year, I was really looking forward to this. Sadly it didn't work for me. Eda that made the book unbearable. It's hard to get through a book when the main character is incredibly selfish. I couldn't even admire her as a queen because she was not politically savvy at all.

Eda made a deal with a god to become empress. Of course things quickly go awry. She didn't have the right allies to strengthen her political power, so although she was the empress, her grip on the kingdom was fragile. I actually found it shocking that she didn't have spies gathering information on her enemies in the empire. Apparently she expected that no one would go against her because she was the empress. There were not any long term plans to improve the kingdom. It was no wonder people wanted her deposed since she was immature, naive and bitter. She acted like a petulant child throwing a tantrum.

The first half of the book was the weakest, which focused on politics. There was a big twist about halfway through that I saw coming a mile away. This part of the book was boring and hard to get through. The second half improved because Eda was more personable although, much to my dismay, she never stopped being extremely self-centered. Her reasons for wanting revenge weren't great. All she did was blame the gods for her own bad choices. I would have liked the ending better if it had been a dismal, depressing ending rather than try to achieve a semi-happy one.

I received this from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jackie.
623 reviews41 followers
January 12, 2020
‘This book gave me so much and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

“Beyond the Shadowed Earth” sees Eda working to fulfill her end of the bargain she made with the gods to become Empress but with her Barons going over her head making deals with foreign governments she finds herself playing a deadly game that could cost her everything she’s ever wanted.

So from the beginning I really loved the mythology in this that plays the biggest role in shaping the characters and influencing them both the good and bad and I think that was done nicely even if the ending left me sort of lost I can appreciate the crafting that went into making each aspect of those stories stand on their own as well as be a piece to a much larger puzzle.

I really loved Eda but I will warn that not many people might join me in this appreciation as she really is quite ruthless but, and please don’t groan at me, you can sum her entire character up into Taylor Swift’s “The Man” and perhaps you’ll love her too. Eda spends a majority of the book making mistakes and fighting harder than everyone to get what she wants even if it leads deadly consequences but to see her go from this all powerful Empress to her most vulnerable and learn from everything that happens along the way makes her a great character that I wish I had a bit brighter of an ending but I can’t discuss that without spoiling too much.

My only critique is some of the magic systems in the book at the beginning seemed somewhat mundane in that the gods had been forgotten and she was trying to restore them to their former glory and therefore power but once she found herself away from the kingdom the magic element became less natural and more convenient as the characters tried to overcome certain obstacles which overall appeared to be a little out of place since so much relied on the politics of war with human soldiers which doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’ve got people who can turn into tigers one town over.

This is a really great read and by an author that has been recommended to me for awhile and I’m hopeful that we can visit with Eda again in the future!

**special thanks to the publishers and netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review**
Profile Image for Ashlee » libraryinthecountry.
775 reviews645 followers
April 30, 2022
I’m a big fan of villainous/morally grey leads and after reading Beneath the Haunting Sea I was looking forward to diving into this one and seeing Eda’s story!

This is also my third book by Joanna Ruth Meyer, and you can absolutely expect it to continue with Meyer’s style of weaving stories within stories and incorporating fascinating mythology into her character’s lives. In my experience, Meyer’s books absolutely have the feel of two books in one and that’s the case in this one too. There is a distinct first and second part to this one.

In the first part, we see Eda trying to keep her promise to the Gods while maintaining her hold on the Empire—one she stole away from the rightful heir (which is seen in the first book, but not required to read for this one). In the second part, we see Eda grappling with the loss of literally everything she holds dear and grappling with the reality of her deeds.

Eda is a villainous lead, but there are absolutely larger villains in her world than she. Overall, the story is a beautifully written, epic journey of Eda discovering her place in a world that doesn’t revolve around her. I *loved* the side characters, as is typically the case for me with Meyer’s books and the grasp on the world’s mythology and interweaving plots is really well done.

There’s a little romance and a lot of betrayal. I do wish there had been more of a “wow I’ve done some really unforgivable stuff” moment for Eda, and found the book weak in that area, but I don’t think there was a needed full-on redemption arc (there is a bit of one, but not in the way you might have expect). Overall, another win for Meyer, in my opinion!
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,575 reviews191 followers
November 9, 2019
This is set in the same world as the authors previous book Beneath the Haunting Sea but is not exactly a sequel and I guess I should describe it as a companion story as it’s fleshing out the world building. I was intrigued by the idea of a heroine who wasn’t exactly heroic but honestly struggled to actually like Eda. I think I clearly need to feel sympathy, camaraderie or just plain empathy and sadly even though the journey throughout this story is leading Eda to conquer her own demons sadly I was just left feeling dissatisfied at the end.
Essentially we have Eda who has lied, cheated and murdered in order to become Empress but along the way she also offered a soul, a life if you will but not her own oh no definitely never her own ! Now Eda is surrounded at Court by those seeking to depose her possibly even execute her but all she cares about is the fact that she’s done everything asked of her by the tricky God only to see her friend whose life she so casually bartered away become ill. Treachery and hatred, ambition and murder are rife throughout this story with an ending that I feel is perhaps meant to show redemption but sadly this reader just wanted more emotion.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Profile Image for Veronica ( moon & coffee. ).
111 reviews43 followers
December 28, 2019
A | If I could hold up another book as the PERFECT example of mythology and worldbuilding, I’d move Beneath the Haunting Sea to the side and hold this one higher up instead. Beyond the Shadowed Earth takes what was good about the previous standalone book in this universe and makes it better. Quite frankly, this book is far more compelling and impressive. Eda makes for a far better protagonist than Talia. The mythology and worldbuilding are much more extensive here. Still, although I liked the story overall, the ending was a bit meh and there were certain things that made it hard to suspend my disbelief.

Full review to be posted on my blog on 11 Jan. 2020. I received this book as I am taking part in the Fantastic Flying Book Club blog tour for this novel. Thank you to Page Street Kids for providing me with a copy of the ARC and for FFBC for giving me this chance
Profile Image for TheGeekishBrunette.
1,180 reviews29 followers
January 10, 2020
Rating 4.5

This isn’t technically a sequel to Beneath the Haunting Sea as it is more of a companion novel. I still think that you should read BtHS because it’s where we are first introduced to Eda and it really is the driving force for this novel.

I enjoyed the first book and in some ways I loved this book more. I think that there is a lot of good lessons that can be learned if you look between the lines and sometimes they are right at the surface.

Eda is the Empress of half the world. She has everything she wanted but it all came with a price. Even though she did terrible things in the first book and we learn more about those things in this book, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She loses her parents and everything seems to spiral after that and where love once was, revenge has now replaced it. The one word that always came to mind for her and even the god Tuer, was selfishness. Of course, there was a lot of pride, but it all still boiled down to being selfish. I think that is one reason why she was so relatable. We have all been there wanting it all and more, then reality slaps us in the face. Eda struggles throughout and becomes like an onion. So many layers are removed by the end and then we finally see Eda for the person she truly is.

There are other characters in this book that are just as memorable as Eda. Ileem, who is a prince, and his sister also come from a harsh background of loss. Even though they are related they each deal with grief in different ways. One becomes so consumed by revenge that they will do anything to satisfy their need for it. This can even be seen as a lesson as it is always important to know when finding peace is really more important than hurting more people in the process of seeking revenge.

Just like in Beneath the Haunting Sea, the gods and goddesses are back. Along with that, there are new stories for the ones that are important like Tuer, who is the driving force for the plot. I loved learning about him even though he was super selfish and I just wanted to punch him a couple times. The mythology was interesting and definitely kept me intrigued.

As for the plot, it was fast paced and kept my attention. I didn’t want to put the book down and picked it back up any chance I got. The plot twists were definitely unexpected and had me gasping out loud. The ending was a bit better than the first book and didn’t feel as anti-climatic. I also thought the writing was much better.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It is such a compelling read told by a girl that had done terrible things but was looking for a way to redeem it all.

Thank you Fantastic Flying Book Club for this opportunity and thanks to the publisher for the free copy! (I received a copy for reviewing. All opinions are my own.)
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
599 reviews135 followers
May 18, 2021
Well, we were off to a slow start, but Book 1 of 2020 is complete! And what a book it was: intricate and exquisite are two words that come to mind.

Full review at A Book Shrew

I haven't read Meyer's previous novel Beneath the Haunting Sea, which is the companion to this book. That said, I'm pleased to say I had no confusion at all, so it's not a must-read. Although you probably should, since Meyer's writing really is quite fantastic.

The key selling point for this book—and what delivers across each page—is the world building. It shines differently in every chapter and creates a rich mythology. I wish details of the Empire itself were more prominent, and I would have loved a map with my ARC copy, but it's the religion that makes this book great. The gods that the Empire has turned away from, those Eda is trying to revive, combine to make a lore that feels both unique and interesting.

The plot itself is where I found the book to be quite intricate. Eda barely managed to claim the Empire for her own a year earlier, and she struggles to hold it now. Her Barons are a wily lot, and you don't know who to trust out of them. The Prince that comes for a peace treaty is hard to trust. Even her best friend makes things difficult for Eda. Basically trust is thin on the ground. The political thread is a complex one, and it took turns that I certainly didn't expect.

Something that caught me off guard—in a good way—is how the story climaxed and wound down. It becomes quite retrospective and deep, examining human weakness and godly foolishness and the power that comes from both. There's a certain beauty to it all. It put me in mind of Roshani Chokshi's beautiful novel The Star-Touched Queen with how lyrical the prose became. The ending is a surprising one, moving in a direction I didn't predict, but left me satisfied all the same.

What took this down for me was the main character, Eda. I did not care for her as Empress at all. She seemed very selfish to me, and hard to like for the first half of the book. One has to be firm to keep hold of an Empire taken as she did, but it all felt very abrupt and out of character. Maybe that was the author's choice, foreshadowing perhaps, or maybe I've just read it wrong, but I didn't care much for her.

Overall this was a great book and there's a lot of potential for more Joanna Ruth Meyer in my life.
Profile Image for Cheyenne Langevelde.
Author 4 books109 followers
May 27, 2023
The Good:
It's a Joanna Ruth Meyer book, so it's well-written and enjoyable. The world-building was very rich; I loved getting to see different cultures in this book that you didn't see in the previous one. And I think that was definitely the strong suit of this story. I also appreciated getting to see more of the mythologies fleshed out, and also the glimpse of events in Beneath the Haunting Sea from Eda's perspective.

The Bad:
This would have been an amazing story if anybody but Eda had been the main character. I am aware this is entirely subjective, but I spent the entirety of Book One absolutely hating Eda, and so to read a book about her was a bit of a shock, especially as it's sort of a redemption story for her. As a result, I really struggled to get into the story and like her at all because I couldn't get over what she had did in the previous book.

The second thing that really bothered me was the act of calling the gods via blood, a.k.a. cutting one's self, particularly the arms. Paganism aside (which...okay I studied world myth for my college literature course, so I could appreciate for that point), it really bothered me and personally think it should have a trigger warning for people (myself included) who have struggled with self-harm. The same sort of reasoning existed for this (to me anyway), and so it was...I guess someone people would say...triggering. Read at your own risk, I suppose. Just wanted to leave that here though.

What the Reader Thought:
I really wanted to love this book. I absolutely adore the other two things I've read from this author, but this one...isn't one I'll read again for the reasons listed above. It's very well written, but the pacing dragged and I struggled to get through it until very close to the end. I enjoyed the ending from a technical perspective, but...I didn't love this book. I wasn't overwhelmed, but I wasn't underwhelmed, I was just sorta...whelmed. Fantastic writing, it just didn't deliver like I expected. Nonetheless, I am eagerly looking forward to reading more from this author!
Profile Image for JenacideByBibliophile.
209 reviews127 followers
January 16, 2020
DNFd at about 25%.

It started out interesting, pulled me in and I was enjoying the story building and Eda's history. The plot sounded awesome, and I was excited for another badass female lead to strut her stuff and take whatever the hell she she wanted, because F the consequences. Right?!

But....this went from "Woo!" to "Zzzzz" real quick.


I just have no connection or feeling towards anything in this book. The main character, Eda, is bland and just says things that lack any emotion. When she is supposed to be infuriated or seeping from her pores with anger, she's just yelling mean stuff and stomping her foot. I feel like the author was trying to make her seem like a daunting empress that makes her subjects quake, but she came across as a child pretending to be an adult. I feel nothing towards her, and nothing towards any other character.

They're all kind of existing on these pages and I'm over here sitting awkwardly in the corner watching.

Like a stalker, who lost their love to stalk.

The romance is weird and forced...I mean, I assume it's the romance of this story. The Ileem guy (I think that's his name?) comes in and at first Eda is all suspicious and hates him, but then he says a few nice things in a few situations and


...she just drops all her suspicions and anger, and gets flirty?

Oh honey....noooo. It's 2020. Make him work for it.

I'm sure this would have turned out fine, but my interest was zapped and I was ready to move on.
Profile Image for Anna Bright.
Author 4 books729 followers
September 4, 2019
official blurb that i officially wrote for official purposes:

Gods and palaces and mountains and monasteries, betrayal and sacrifice and justice and atonement... BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH is hands spread across a map, flames on an altar, reverent and ancient and careful and strange. A wondrous fantasy of sweeping proportions.
Profile Image for Vanessa (bookfairy95).
745 reviews100 followers
February 1, 2020
***I received an Arc of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

***Contains spoilers!***

When I started this book I was a bit overwhelmed by it. The world seemed to vast, too much to comprehend and I felt like it wasn’t explained enough and like I was just thrown into the story. This is my fault though. I requested this book on the synopsis alone, without knowing that it would be the second in a series, so most likely the world was thoroughly explained in book 1 already.

As soon as I understood the world, I also liked the story. The concept surrounding the goods and the bargain Eda made with Tuer were super interesting and I also liked the connection Eda and Ileem seemed to have. And I must admit that I didn’t really like Eda very much during the first half of the book. She pretended to be an empress. Ruler of all those people, but in fact she was just a little brat that played at being empress. Not more. And with Ileem she was just too trustworthy and naive. I could have slapped her, for her behaviors and for being this brat.

And then all these things happened and they were brilliant and frustrating, because I wished for Eda to finally grow up and seize power for real and to get rid of all these stupid and annoying barons. But…. Well she didn’t. And I was angry for her sake. But after these certain things happened, I liked her SO MUCH MORE than before.
The journey that was described was really good. She found herself, her true purpose and she broke out of her shell. She grew. Especially mentally.
Profile Image for Gayatri Saikia   | per_fictionist .
476 reviews68 followers
February 4, 2020
I am quite fond of books that leave me pondering upon and characters that give me second thoughts of whether or not I should like or despise them. And that is what exactly happened with BEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH by Joanna Ruth Meyer. First let me start off with what worked out for me : Eda, I am a Slytherin so coming across a character like Eda, who thrives for power and being selfish at times always makes me happy. I kind of feel such characters are really RARE and its forever an honor to see such badass ladies at WORK. As the story emerges we see Eda, who previously strikes a deal with the Gods, trying to fulfil her end of the demand and kind of losing her grip on her empire with the Barons in tow.

The elements of mythology is beautifully incorporated with peeks of fantasy and that worked for me quite well. However a major chunk of the book had too much talk/ politics and I kind of found myself dragging through them. As the story proceeds I wanted Eda’s character to grow but rather it detoriated in my opinion and she only got on my nerves with every page I turned. The story however started getting interesting with a plot twist that caught me offguard. The turns the plot took and the author’s gripping writing and my love-hate relationship with Eda was what kept me going. And I am so glad I did, because the ending was fantastic and I couldn’t have felt more empathetic for Eda.

All in all, pick Beyond the Shadowed Earth up if you are looking for shady unreliable main character, a whole lot of mythological elements and OH EXQUISITE WORLD BUILDING.
Profile Image for R.J..
Author 36 books1,416 followers
April 29, 2020
I am far too late in reviewing this book, as the e-copy I downloaded from NetGalley was poorly formatted and difficult to read. But I persevered nonetheless, because it's beautifully written. Eda is such an angry, ruthless heroine that it would be easy to dislike her, but from the beginning Joanna Meyer draws the reader in with a tragic backstory that makes Eda's harshness understandable and her zeal to appease her gods compelling -- as well as hinting at the possibility of redemption. There's a mythic resonance to the story and its setting that's reminiscent of Megan Whalen Turner's books, but in a good, not derivative way. I plan to buy a hard copy soon, so I can re-read it and properly enjoy it this time!
Profile Image for Verónica Fleitas Solich.
Author 27 books80 followers
October 18, 2022
A kind of redemption of the villain.
Well, almost because Eda continues, in essence, being the same although she evolves through the plot.
The downside is that I didn't like her in the previous book and continued to dislike her in this one.
I honestly don't have much to say about it, I just know that it will be a book that I will soon forget.
Profile Image for Sheila G.
506 reviews97 followers
January 14, 2020
Thanks to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me as a part of your blog tour!

I received a copy of this book via Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.


All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

”One must always take care when treating with gods,” said her father. “It may not be worth the risk.”

Okay, I know that I should never judge a book by it’s cover, but I must mention that I absolutely love this cover! With that out of the way, let’s get on to the review. Beyond The Shadowed Earth is a companion read to Beneath The Haunting Sea. I didn’t realize this before picking up this book, therefore, I haven’t read Beneath The Haunting Sea and plan to in order to get a full picture of this bookverse. Apparently, Eda is present in both stories. However, other readers (who have read Beneath The Haunting Sea) are agreeing that you don’t have to read Beneath The Haunting Sea to understand this book.

Beyond The Shadowed Earth is a beautifully written story about a villain who finds her way to redemption. Set in a world that is well-built, it was easy for me to sink into the imagery that linked it all together.

Eda’s character is a difficult one to adhere to. She is brash, selfish, and plain irritating at times. Early on in the story, she argues with her advisors unabashedly, and it’s embarrassing at times. Her reason, however, is understandable, when the god that she made a deal with to become Empress shows up to remind her that her time to pay them back is running out. Frantic and afraid, Eda pushes harder and harder to get the temple dedicated to reigniting belief in the old gods completed. But with the royal coffers depleting, Eda finds that she is in trouble. Out of desperation, Eda travels far to find the god of the mountain to take back her power, only to find that she would have a lot to learn along the way.

My Rating: ★★★★

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Profile Image for Alexx.
296 reviews62 followers
December 23, 2019
I received an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Page Street Publishing!

Though I had trouble with the first few parts of the book, Beyond the Shadowed Earth flaunted exquisite story elements such as the writing style, the plot, and the rich world-building. At the end of it, I can say that I enjoyed reading the book!

Brilliant writing style
I adored the writing style of the author. It was poetic, sometimes haunting, and it was definitely atmospheric. The author also did a great job with the imagery, whether that be a description of the various places and cities or the clothing worn by the characters. It was great!

Okay characters
I struggled a lot with the first few parts of this book, mainly because of the main character. I had trouble liking Eda, connecting with her or relating to her. She was selfish, cruel, and probably conceited as well. I understand that she’s a “villainous” lead and I expected as much, but 30% of the time I was just completely annoyed by her attitude and her thinking that I couldn’t read continuously. I didn’t lose hope immediately though. I hoped for some sort of character development and in a way, there was. Her character went through a journey filled with vengeance, betrayals, lies, sacrifices, and friendship. Do I think her character has been redeemed? Not entirely. But I did love that she was finally on the right path at the end of the book.

As for the minor characters, Ileem was an interesting addition to the mix. Rescarin was annoying, but I loved his part as a “villain”. Domin was an interesting kind of character, and I loved the change he went through. I adored Morin and Tainir as well, and what they symbolize what’s next for Eda. And Liah, I wanted to know more about her, I was disappointed that I didn’t get any more details about her and her story.

Intricate plot
I also came to love the plot of this book—it wasn’t the usual “I’m going to save my people” kind of plot, instead it was “I’m looking for revenge” and I found that refreshing. I also loved how it was unpredictable at times. For example, I already expected a few of the plot twists, but there were several that really shocked me and I wanted to scream just a little!

Great world-building
The world-building of Beyond the Shadowed Earth is definitely my favorite part. It was rich and expansive, and I loved the idea of the different “Circles”. And although this is a companion level, I had no trouble absorbing all details about the fictional world it was set in. All the little tales and myths plus the brilliant imagery were just enough to get me falling for the world-building.

I also liked the insertion of religion into the world-building and the story itself! I’m gonna be honest and say that I’m not the most religious person out there, but I loved the way they talked about the gods and faith here. (I definitely have a couple of lines highlighted!)

Overall, this was a pretty decent read. 3.5 stars for me! I know others will definitely love this kind of book!

(This book review was first published on Enthralled Bookworm.)
January 13, 2020
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club, Netgalley, and Page Street Kids for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.


First of all, I really don’t think that I could be in Eda’s situation, although a part of me does feel like I can be ruthless to get what I want. Maybe. Sometimes. In my dreams. Not sure.

But could you freaking imagine bartering away your best friend’s soul in order to get what you want? Like, this is your best friend, and you just up and gave their soul away to the gods because you want to have power. I’d rather barter my own soul away if it came down to it, because I couldn’t do that to a best friend. No way, no how. And if I were tricked into it, then I’d feel even worse because then I would look like a total jerk.

I would BE a total jerk, there is no other way around that.

This works out in my favor because this is more of a companion novel than a sequel. And you KNOW I’m going to need to read that first book because – whoa buddy this one had me on the edge of my couch and I almost fell over many times. I didn’t feel lost trying to jump into a world that I didn’t know about from prior experience, and I’m so glad for that. It would have made it harder for me to enjoy the novel, feeling like there were people telling an inside joke without giving me the back story. Rude much? Am I right?

But no. This book was great. Eda’s character was very, very interesting to me and she gave me morally gray vibes. I mean, I don’t know if I could straight up ask some deities for control over half the world, you know? Because as Rumple always says:

Which means we know something bad is going to happen in order to get something of this magnitude. There’s just no escaping it.

And boy do I love a good “villain”. Apparently Eda is more of a villain in the debut novel, and now I’m even more into her than I was before? If that’s even possible? So yeah, I need to read the first book – well you know what I mean – because if this kind of takes place before that one, then I can totally see WHY Eda would be considered the bad guy.

Profile Image for Chiara | _ckarys.
420 reviews289 followers
January 5, 2020
I received an ebook copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Beyond the Shadowed Earth had a very strong start for me. I was so very intrigued by Eda, our villainous protagonist. Her ruthlessness and determination made for an unpredictable protagonist, and I found it extremely refreshing. Her villainous traits set Eda apart from the usual heroine, and coupled with an incredible world-building frame and a winning political intrigue, I was hooked.

My problems started more or less when Ileem, the love interest, showed up. As much as I enjoyed reading the interactions between him and Eda, I found that the affection between the two was too quick, and that Eda’s softening—especially with such a quick pace—diminished her villainous allure. Unfortunately, things didn’t get better for me after that. The political intrigue that I was so hooked on at first ended up feeling rushed and ended too quickly. The plot, sadly, became predictable, and the most shocking twist was one that I predicted far too easily.
After the first 50 percent, the book started to drag. Events should have made Eda a more relatable and, perhaps, likeable character, but it wasn’t the case for me. The Eda of the second half of the book was a character I found hard to understand and hardly likeable, because she was so different from the character that was first presented. It didn’t help that the bonds she makes in this part of the book were introduced too late and were too underdeveloped for me to feel invested or interested in them, which made the ending flat and unsatisfactory.
Profile Image for Shalini.
2,510 reviews199 followers
January 5, 2020
A very, very different tale which gave me an extremely unlikable heroine set in a political world of greed and gods, yet had the power to incite my curiosity to know if she got what she deserved.

Eda wanted the throne, she wanted to be an Empress. At. Any. Cost. She poisoned the old Emperor, killed the legal heir, made a deal with the God Tuer and bargained her nest friend's life. Mid story a twist occurred, she lost everything, blamed the god and wanted to kill him. So she went searching out into the world instead of searching within herself.

My first book by Joanna Ruth Meyer, I was quite shocked by the main character's attitude. She bargained with a tricky God and blamed him without realizing the pain and destruction she had caused. The story took quite some dips with Eda being thrown into different situations and adventures. Barring her attitude, I quite liked the author's writing.

The world as we live now, I have met quite a few Edas who would never take responsibility of their actions. Eda was the same until the end. There were a few dialogues in the book as spoken by the gods which enamored me. The plot changed with those, and a new light was shown. I quite liked the initial politics which quite intrigued me the way the winds blew in that land.

This book was Eda's spotlight, and with her attitude it was difficult to like her. The ending felt apt, could have been more dramatic. The story and plot like was good, if the change in the main character had come sooner, I would have liked it more.

Overall, a good plot line which made it interesting.
Profile Image for Dana.
1,057 reviews76 followers
September 5, 2020
“After that, gods keep you.”
No, Eda thought, gods beware of me.”


Beyond the Shadowed Earth is an epic story of pride, greed and ego.  When Eda ascends the throne she does so through deception and a poorly thought out deal with a god.  The book is split into three parts and during the first book, I felt like that person in the back of the theater during a slasher movie, screaming “don’t open that door!” Eda is young and ambitious but is not wise and it shows. Squabbling between her advisors and ill advised friendships have her life in turmoil. But her faith in her god and his word is strong. The naivety of youth really bites back for this poor haughty soul.


“It is our choices that make us, Edna. What we choose to do with the things the gods give us.”

By part 2 – Eda’s poorly chosen alliances have burnt her and she is left with nothing but a taste for vengeance. Her faith is demolished and she means to exact revenge for the turn of fortune she has received. Her Frodo-like journey begins to the Circles beyond the World to confront the god who has seemingly forsaken her. I enjoyed the journey and some of the other worldly creatures that she encounters. But, I’m not sure if she learned her lesson about trusting people too quickly. I also feel like in general when faced with adversity the answer always popped up a little quicker than I’d like.


“Just take care, my dear, that thing you think you’re seeking is not the thing you actually find.”


In part 3, all is revealed. We begin to understand how Eda’s origins have impacted the course of her life and journey. She has an amazing character arc and the story wraps up in a beautiful satisfying way.
All this book was missing was a map! I loved the world and its complexity but dang did I wish I had a beautiful map to be referring to along the way.  There was even a whole chapter in a map shop and it had me longing for one HARD!
I don’t know why more people aren’t buzzing about this book, if you love fantasy built around a world of petty, vengeful gods and naïve, stubborn humans then you should pick this one up! It gets 4.5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Alex.
457 reviews147 followers
September 14, 2020
Welp My bad! I had a hard time with this book. Not that is was bad I just didn't connect with the world or characters like I usually do when reading a favorite book. Now to the my bad part, I did pay attention like a dope and didn't know this was a companion book, so that could be one of the main reasons it didn't resonate with me.

If you are looking for a resilient and feisty lead with room for lots of development in her trials and tribulations this is a book for you. I didn't hate Eda but she definitely made it hard to love at certain points through out the story.

The world building, plot and twists aren't too predictable and fairly easy to follow and enjoy. I have to admit though it wasn't my top read of the year, I didn't hate it and would read more by the author for sure.

This ARC was given to me by Netgalley and the publisher for an honest review. Thank you!
Profile Image for Crystal.
269 reviews30 followers
January 22, 2020
“It has always been Eda’s dream to become empress, no matter the cost. Haunted by her ambition and selfishness, she’s convinced that the only way to achieve her goal is to barter with the gods. But all requests come with a price and Eda bargains away the soul of her best friend in exchange for the crown.” – Goodreads

With that description I was excited to start this book. I was interested in the story of someone who is so ambitious they would betray their closest companion, and how that would affect her. Eda is very much an anti-hero, and she has a lot to answer for. She is selfish and driven which leads her to manipulation and even murder. The guilt that comes afterward compels her to try to fix some of her errors, but rather than take full responsibility for her actions, she continues to blame others. In an effort to escape her guilt she will make more decisions that have the potential to destroy her kingdom.

Again, more plot points that would seem to be something I would really enjoy! For some reason, I didn’t. Partly I think because some of the developments in the book didn’t feel earned. Her escapes from danger feel like plot cheats, and are a little haphazard. I don’t mind a villain story, but I found it difficult to make an emotional connection with her or to care about her fate. I think that this authors style might fit another reader better than myself, so I don’t want to say it’s a bad book, more that it’s just not for me. I hope you can read it and enjoy it more! The plot really was a promising idea.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley
January 18, 2020
There’s just something about Joanna Ruth Meyer’s writing that always leaves me wanting more! Beyond the Shadowed Earth is an excellent companion to Beneath the Haunting Sea. You can read each as a standalone, but I recommend reading them as companions as they are set in the same world and contain the same mythology. I really enjoyed the main character, Eda. She was so self-centered and selfish in the beginning of the story, but as she embarks on her journey, she shows tremendous growth and becomes so much more appealing. I loved the action and adventure in Earth. It was well paced, and I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what happened next! There were some great plot twists and I enjoyed trying to figure everything out. Joanna knows how to add just the right amount of romance to her stories as well.

If you like fantasy, romance, prose, mythology, redemption stories, and amazing world building, then this book is for you! I absolutely adored this book, and I hope that you will too. Be sure to add this to your TBR if you haven’t already! The book is out now and available wherever books are sold, and also you can request it from your local library. I absolutely can’t wait to see what Joanna comes up with next. I volunteer as tribute!
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,035 reviews44 followers
December 13, 2020
Finished, with about a month left to go before the release of Meyer’s newest novel! :P I can’t keep up.

This, her third novel, takes place in the same world as her first, BENEATH THE HAUNTING SEA. The action takes place after the antagonist of that book/ protagonist of this one, Eda, has banished the rightful ruler of her empire. She’s put in a lot of work to claim that seat, after all, from poisoning old rulers to making deals with gods.

Or so she thinks that’s what she’s doing! /weirdly constructed sentence Turns out that Eda didn’t pay heed to the prologue of this book / a story her father told her before he died, regarding the foolishness of mortals treating with gods. Mortals don’t seem to understand the stakes of what they’re asking; they and the deities are playing on two different chess boards. But when Eda became an orphan at a young age, and the barons of her homeland treated her like chattel, she decided to invoke the god Tuer. Make her Empress for a lifetime of service. Oh, and the life of her friend, Niren, as a bond.

Eda is Empress by the time this story opens, so already it’s like Tuer has fulfilled his end of the bargain. In return, Eda is scrambling to build a temple for him and to restore religious rites in the empire, before Niren is taken from her. But is that what Tuer really wants?

The first act of this novel was a bit fuzzy. Felt like Meyer was rushing to get through a bunch of exposition before the real meat of the story could begin. Unfortunately, this didn’t help much with Eda’s backstory. Eda is a villain, but in order to be a protagonist she has to be more complicated than that. I’m not sure she was that nuanced until the action starting in act two forced it upon her. Her “humanizing” side was her relationship with Niren, but I didn’t think Niren was developed enough, especially for someone with a significant role to play later on. I spent most of my time wondering why in the hell Niren would spend the time of day on greedy, cruel Eda.

Additionally, there was a bit of a bait and switch in act one, which left me feeling eyebrow archy about a secondary character who maybe didn’t even need to be there. Also, Meyer kinda beat us over the head with what Tuer really wanted Eda to do, something she was stubbornly ignorant of until act 2. Though to be fair, stubbornness is a decent character flaw! :P

But beyond those niggles, color me impressed. After reading “book one,” I wanted to return to this world because I sensed a worldbuilding dynamite…and Meyer did not disappoint. There are twists and turns; layers of immortal creatures and otherworldly dimensions, religious rites across cultures and the true cost of power. All told with a nice amount of detailed, immersive writing.

It’s YA fantasy so the plot moved pretty quick, especially for so many pages, and yes there are a couple of love interests. The first one was perhaps a little rushed and perfunctory, but it led into some nice character growth for Eda with regards to the second. Booyah.

As someone who is dabbling, to put it mildly, with religion in her own fantasy project, this was a treat to read. I suppose “religion,” in and of itself, wasn’t Meyer’s true focus; though there are some priestesses and pilgrimages, the main goal is to divine the true intentions of the gods and the physio-fantastical state of the world. (Don’t you just hate it when evil spirits can just barge in? :P) I know some readers don’t like the lack of agency that can come about from characters setting on paths laid out for them by gods. But for me, I think it’s a nice balance for seeing how we live our lives when some things are outside of our control. It’s just, in epic fantasy land, the brush tends to be rather sweeping. :P But huzzah for a fantasy novel that actually includes fantasy! :D

/disclaimer Joanna and I were part of the same NaNoWriMo viddler community, once upon a forever ago.
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