Review: River of Shadows (Underworld Gods #1)

Title: River of Shadows (Underworld Gods #1)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: self-published
Source: Author
Format: Physical arc
Release Date: January 27, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


When 24-year-old Hanna Heikkinen’s father dies suddenly, she travels to Finland for his funeral. Soon after arriving, she discovers that his casket is empty. A young man named Rasmus tells her that her father didn’t actually die, but that he’s a powerful shaman who went into the Realm of the Dead to try and save his own life. Her father is being held captive by the God of Death, and the only way to save him is for Hanna to travel to the Realm of the Dead with Rasmus. They travel along the River of Shadows, until Hanna is captured by the God of Death. She volunteers to stay as his prisoner in exchange for her father being let go. Death likes Hanna and wants to make her his wife, but she doesn’t expect to develop feelings for him. 

This was such a wild story! I was hooked right from the start. I liked Hanna right away and I was rooting for her. There were lots of twists, that kept me in suspense throughout the story. I loved the “Beauty and the Beast” plot that the story followed, since that is my favourite fairytale. The romance became quite steamy towards the end, which was fun. 

The only thing I wondered about was what life Hanna was missing when she went into the Realm of Death. She didn’t really give much thought to the people in her old life who would be missing her and wondering where she went. The story ended on a huge cliffhanger, so I’m glad the next book is already out for me to read soon!

River of Shadows is a great steamy romance! 

Thank you Karina Halle for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Crown of Crimson by Karina Halle

Other books in the series:

  • Crown of Crimson (Underworld Gods #2)

Have you read River of Shadows? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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