Sea of shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Age of Legends, bk 1. Atom, 2014. ISBN 9780751547818.
(Age: 14+) Horror. Fantasy. Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn live in a village next to the Forest of the Dead, where exiled criminals are sent to die. They have powers as Keeper and Seeker to quiet the souls of the dead. When their village is devastated, they have to warn the Emperor of the threat to the Empire. Accompanied by warrior, Gavril, and thief, Ronan, and their two animal companions, they face the perils of the wasteland in their dash to save the children of the village.
Armstrong is an accomplished novelist of two other young adult series and many adult books, and she brings her plotting skills to this, the first in the series. The characters of Moria and Ashlyn are fully fleshed out, each with strengths and weaknesses and each with honourable intentions. Moria is impetuous but loyal, a girl who is not afraid to do her duty while Ashlyn is quieter but has an inner strength. Their companions, Gavril, a stone faced young warrior and Ronan, a wily thief, are perfect foils for the young girls.
There are many thrilling and often terrifying moments in this story. The descriptions of the Forest of the Dead and the fate that befalls the villagers who go there paint a very scary picture of the evil that the twins face. Other mythical creatures that attack them on their journey add to the excitement. But they don't just face terror from evil beings, there is also terrible evil in some of the people they thought they could trust.
This is a classic dark fantasy/horror story, with twins, two boys they could fall in love with, a dangerous quest and lots of unexpected twists to keep the heart pounding. The story ends unexpectedly and makes the reader keen to find out more. It should appeal to readers who like horror and a good scary story.