Cover Image: Dark Moon Shallow Sea

Dark Moon Shallow Sea

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-ARC! I am very grateful and happy to explore everything this author will write in the future as well!

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thank you to netgalley for the advanced reading copy. I really enjoyed this and will be getting copies for my shop.

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I had so much fun with the Adam Binder trilogy when I read (and reread) it in 2022, so I was really excited to see what Slayton could do in a secondary world. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this as much as I wanted to. The world is really cool and there are so many ideas that Slayton is playing with here that I generally love, I just think I found the execution lacking.

We follow Raef, who had been an acolyte to the moon goddess when knights of another god killed her and all of her followers. Raef survived and has sworn revenge. Part of this revenge is stealing the contents of a box that the Knights want, which to his surprise is a man named Kinos. We also follow Seth, who follows Hyperion and had been in charge of guarding the box. I liked the chase between these two and liked the idea od a world without a moon and the conversations about religion and power. Seth’s story in particular I found was really compelling. I also like how al three boys were casually queer.

That being said, there were transitions in scenes that felt too jarring and the way certain elements played out felt too convenient for the plot. For example, there’s a scene where Kinos gets stolen back and I had to read through it several times to realize that he was in fact stolen and that Raef hadn’t just overreacted. Also, there is a bit of a romance between Raef and Kinos there were hints of attraction between them, but then there’s a scene where Raef has to choose between Kinos and Seth and it’s written like it should be an agonizing decision but I didn’t buy any real connection between any of them. I would have loved to see some of the plot/elements fleshed out a little more, maybe even splitting this into two books because the bones were there for a fantastic book and I’ve seen what Slayton can do to make me care about characters but this just wasn’t it for me.

I will probably pick up the second book and maybe retry this on audio because that’s how I read the Adam Binder trilogy, but as it stands now, I’m sad I didn’t love this more.

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I loved David's previous trilogy and was excited to see what he came up with next. And what we got was an absolute pleasure to read. The perfect blend of romance and revenge, high fantasy and suspense. Can't wait for book 2.

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This book is a delight to read, with excellent writing, a haunting and suspenseful plot, and well-developed characters. I couldn't put it down and finished it in one sitting. I highly recommend it to all my patrons. Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC. I voluntarily read it and all opinions are my own.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There were many elements that really brought the story to life and kept me interested. It was dark fantasy, suspenseful, dying worlds, etc... There was great character development and world building which as two major factors, in my opinion, in the success of a fantasy novel.
This is book 1 of a series by David R Slayton and I am so excited for the next release.

Thank you to Net Galley and Blackstone Press for the ARC.

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David set the bar really high with the Adam Binder series and then blew it out of the water with Dark Moon, Shallow Sea.

We are introduced to a new world, where once the gods of the Sun and Moon lived in harmony along with their followers. When the Sun God’s Knights kill the Moon Goddess, her followers are branded heretics. And this is how we meet Raef, a devout follower of the Moon Goddess who lives on the streets, stealing what he can to survive. When the opportunity arises to get revenge on the Sun God’s Knights, he seizes it, taking him on a journey he never expected. Along this journey, he continuously runs into Seth, a Knight of the Sun God, who is ostracized by his fellow knights and constantly serving penance. As we follow these two, secrets are revealed that will change the foundation of this world.

A great start to a new series - I am looking forward to the next book.

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From the description, I was eager to read Dark Moon Shallow Sea. The characters were quite sweet in ways entirely unexpected from my initial assumptions, especially when compared to their dark setting. The world-building is intense, which did make parts of it fall flat for me, but overall I would consider it a solid fantasy recommendation.

Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for providing an Advanced Review Copy.

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Dark Moon, Shallow Sea by David R. Slayton weaves a dark coastal fantasy about knights, heretics, and a fallen god.

First off, I really liked the dual narrative, cat-and-mouse game here! On one hand, there's a scholar of Phoebe on the run, trying to avenge his dead goddess, and, on the other hand, we have a knight of Hyperion who's hunting down Phoebe's followers while grappling with his own faith.

However, for a theocracy, I really wish we could have gotten more of the mythos and history of the gods. For instance, Hyperion knights are destroying anything related to Phoebe without letting readers know why the sibling gods turned on each other. We're not even told that the gods are siblings until a third of the way in ... which seems like to pretty basic, important information that should have been brought up earlier to me. We're also repeatedly told that a mysterious man must be returned to his box without any clues as to why for almost half of the novel.

Heck, even lies would have been better than vagueness.

I think the withholding of information was supposed to have added a mystery component, but, in this case, I think introducing background information earlier on would have helped readers understand the stakes at hand and the characters' motivations--making for a more compelling read.

Overall, I feel like the story had an interesting premise and characters, but I wish the world itself had been fleshed out more.

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Dark Moon, Shallow Sea
by David R. Slayton
NetGalley ARC
Publication Date: October 31, 2023
Blackstone Publishing

Raef survived when the knights of the sun god killed Phoebe, goddess of the moon, now he lurks in the shadows, hiding from the shades, the spirits of the dead who, without Phoebe, cannot move on, surviving by any means. But when he is told of treasure just brought into the Temple of Hyperion, he breaks in with the hope of changing his life.

Tasked to guard the box, Seth is a knight of the sun, but when a thief takes what was in the box right from under his and two other knights' noses, he now must find both; what was inside and the one who took it.

This book was like walking through a magical forest, except the path is an elementary school hall and the students drew the forest. And while there are talented magical creative detailed pictures where there is no doubt the artist could make it a career, there are more stick figures and green blobbed trees.

The world, magic system, and characters were creative but lacked love. There was more telling the story than showing.

A deep dive into the work, adding depth to everything: the world, backstory, characters, politics, magics, gods, etc, and including a really good edit, as I came across quite a few issues, (ie location 626 says that there are no bodies swinging from the gallows but three or so sentences later on 628 the other character is looking at bodies), would fix a lot of the missing elements.

I almost loved this. It has all the makings of a good story, but it was executed poorly and I had to force myself to finish because of the lack of depth.

2 Stars

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. The following opinions are my own.

Well that was a very big bummer. I wanted a spark but it fell flat for me. I'm sure that others will love this though.

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I really wanted to like this book but unfortunately everything fell flat for me. The characters felt more like archetypes than flesh and blood people; there was a distance to them that kept me from feeling for them or their circumstances. Most of the plot is about the gods and the religious orders that serve them, and how the world is in upheaval due to imbalance with the gods. Into this chaotic world, Raef is set on his hero's journey and must fight, scheme, and flee, going from one trial to the next. I kept wanting to like the story and get into it, but I was forcing myself to finish. Even the romance plot couldn't capture my interest. Maybe it's just me, and maybe the final published version is more polished, but I just did not enjoy this.

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Dark Moon, Shallow Sea by David R Slayton
The Gods of Night and Day series #1.
Fantasy, dark. Knights, mythology, M-M elements, pirates, abandoned children, dying worlds.
Seth is a Knight but must offer penance on a regular basis. He doesn’t have control. He is tasked with protecting a box. He is not told why or what’s in the box. He doesn’t want to hurt people.
Raef wants revenge for the death and destruction of his godess, the tides and sea. In the knights temple he finds a man imprisoned within a box. Raef befriends Kinos but others are searching for Kinos.
Two opposing religions. Raef and Seth are on opposite sides of the religious destruction.
Ghosts, and shadows, spirits roam as the knights fight.
Dark, bloody, brutal. Fantasy. Stitched together shades. Battles.
Twists, turns, who is on what side? Who is evil? Who is the savior?
A complex fantasy that turns over and inside out ad the Moon and the Sun and their delegates battle for supremacy.

I received a copy of this from NetGalley.

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So this gets a bit dark at the end…. I like character driven stories best and the three main characters are interesting and well designed. The world building is a little weaker. The writing style is lighter and doesn’t go into great detail in anything about the world so it was a quick read. I really enjoyed this author’s urban fantasy series and after this book I think I’ll enjoy his fantasy series just as much!

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David R. Slayton is a spellcrafter. He dreams up ultra-rich fantasy worlds and then peoples them with characters who engage, enthrall, and entertain in full measure. "Dark Moon, Shallow Sea" begins in a deconstructed world, a time and a place in which the goddess of the moon has been murdered, the voice of the god of the sun makes pawns of his worshipers, and the sacrifice of one will ensure the redemption of many. The yin can’t prevail without the yang, the circle of the sun and the moon must be unbroken, and the ones who will lie to remain in power must yield.

The parallels between fantasy and reality are unmistakable as Raef journeys through peril and deceit, a painful revelation, and discovers who he is along the way. More importantly, he discovers who he comes from, and why. Slayton masterfully twists and turns the story, tumbling readers headlong into the unexpected and leaving us on the cusp of so much more to come. The connection between Raef and Seth is only just building, and there is another whose deception must be confronted, which is a hook that was expertly baited and, I don’t mind admitting, left me a little heavy-hearted. The ending left me a lot curious, though, and promises many more secrets to be revealed.

If you love character-driven fantasy set in a world rife with danger and treachery, magic and mythology, "Dark Moon, Shallow Sea" delivers.

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I had such a great time reading Dark Moon, Shallow Sea that I finished it in less than 24 hours. The mix of the fast pace, approachable prose, and relatable characters just sucked me in and wouldn't let go. The plot of this story was also a bit wild, with so many exciting reveals, twists, and turns.

I loved all of the fantasy elements and the world-building in Dark Moon, Shallow Sea. The world had an interesting history, with warring gods and demons, that slowly came to light over the course of the story. Nothing was really what it seemed to be in the beginning, and I enjoyed how surprised I was by how it all came together in the end. The creepy atmosphere of the setting made this a great spooky season read, and the use of the ghosts as raving hordes out for blood was chilling at times.

There were so many great themes in Dark Moon, Shallow Sea, but I'm only going to touch on a couple of my favorites. Faith was a huge one, especially as it relates to being faithful to one's beliefs versus one's church. The story also examined how propaganda can be used to re-write the narrative of history. It highlighted how authoritarians gain and maintain power through manipulation of the masses, including by co-opting faith/religion and the eradication of centers of learning and knowledge. Needless to say, there's plenty of heavy-hitting material in this book, and the author uses fantasy elements and imagery/symbols to weave it all seamlessly into the story.

I enjoyed the stories of both main characters in Dark Moon, Shallow Sea, but Seth's story spoke to me the most. I think many queer people of faith will find a part of themselves in his story. He experienced so much religious trauma and spent most of his life hating parts of himself because of it. I loved his journey of discovering that he doesn't need to be perfect or just like everyone else to be good or faithful. I was impressed by his disillusionment with his church rather than with his god and his growth in faith despite everything he experienced. It was a beautiful character arc.

There were only a few nit-picky things that didn't work for me in Dark Moon, Shallow Sea. While most of the reveals were fascinating, some of them felt like they came out of nowhere. I also thought the romance elements were a bit too rushed. The pace was fast, and it made the depth of their connections feel a little too developed for the amount of time spent together. Neither of these things should be a deal-breaker, though, because this was a really great story and a fascinating start to what promises to be another great series by Slayton.

Overall, Dark Moon, Shallow Sea was a great epic fantasy that had me hooked from beginning to end. I think fans of Tara Sim's The Dark Gods series might like this series, too. They have a similar dark vibe with warring faiths, ghosts on a rampage, and the threat of demons. This story wasn't quite as epic in scope, though, but it was much more fast-paced. All in all, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, and I'll definitely be picking up the sequel.

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I enjoyed this story from start to finish. The character development, plot, and quick pace kept me engaged and anxious to know what was as coming next.

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I already adored Slayton's work from the Adam Binder trilogy and was excited to read this mythologically-driven, Greco-Romanesque fantasy set in a world of his own design (instead of, say, a Trailer Park. No shade at TRAILER PARK TRICKSTER, I loved that, too). Immediately fell for both the SUN (Seth) and MOON (Raef), and also, a Hyperion Hound, because dogs really do know who the good folks are. Immersive world building at its best, sometimes to a terrifying degree (might have nightmares about certain places), with a dual point of view storytelling that kept me switching allegiances (cinnamon roll sunshine! No wait, shadowy angst sexiness! Yes to both!) and kept me guessing as the plot twists and surprises kept coming. Fast-paced fantasy without skipping on the epic feel or expanse, I cannot wait for the next book in THE GODS OF NIGHT AND DAY series!

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Initial Thoughts/Expectations:
As a big fan of David R. Slayton’s Adam Binder series, I jumped at the opportunity to dive into Dark Moon, Shallow Sea a little on the early side. What I expected most was wonderful world building with complex characters. From the title of the series, The Gods of Night and Day, I expected there to be plenty of mythology, which is something I enjoy when done well. From the blurb and author commentary, I knew this book would be darker than what I am used to from this author.

What I Loved:
As expected, the world building is wonderful. I had to read a little slower to make sure I didn’t miss anything, because it all felt so important. The world is dark with a dystopian feel. I found the concept of a world without a moon to be absolutely fascinating and got caught up in the visual imagery of the shallows along with the shades and Grief lurking at every turn.

The characters in David R. Slayton’s books continue to be complex and troubled, with more than a little bit of a dysfunctional family aspect. I enjoyed getting to know the main characters and appreciated the themes of self-acceptance worked in, especially with Seth. Seth reminds us that being alone in a crowded room remains one of the worst feelings, and that trying to fit in with people who do not accept you for you is a choice that can destroy you a little bit at a time if you let it. Rafe reminds us that learning who you truly are and what you come from can be freeing, but come with unexpected consequences and responsibilities..

What I didn’t Love:
The most challenging aspect of this book was the limited dialogue. While the conversations picked up as the story progressed and the pieces fell into place, I struggled in the beginning with all of the actions taking place without conversations to drive them. There are good reasons for some things remaining in the dark, and I could appreciate them on the backend.

Final Thoughts/Recommendations:
This is a solid book one in a new series by David R. Slayton. The book is dark and just a tad sparse on moments of levity, but I feel like future books could see more levity as a focus perhaps shifts from building a world to providing more time with the main male characters. The darkness is tempered by complexity and the reader will be intrigued and busy documenting.

Readers who enjoy a focus on plot and action over romance will appreciate the romance-story balance; the romance is there and drives a storyline or two, but we do not get bogged down in the details.

The book did not disappoint and my expectations of wonderful world building and complex characters was exceeded! I look forward to seeing where book 2 takes us now that book 1 has set the stage!

Review by Crystal @

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A fascinating and gripping dark fantasy. It's original, well plotted and twisty. It's dark but also entertaining and I loved these characters and this world.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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