As The Shadow Rises (The Age of Darkness #2) By Katy Rose Pool
The Last Prophet has been found, yet he sees destruction ahead. In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed There Will Come a Darkness, kingdoms have begun to fall to a doomsday cult, the magical Graced are being persecuted, and an ancient power threatens to break free. But with the world hurtling toward its prophesized end, Anton’s haunting vision reveals the dangerous beginnings of a plan to stop the Age of Darkness. As Jude, Keeper of the Order of the Last Light, returns home in disgrace, his quest to aid the Prophet is complicated by his growing feelings for Anton. Meanwhile, the assassin known as the Pale Hand will stop at nothing to find her undead sister before she dies for good, even if it means letting the world burn. And in Nazirah, Hassan, the kingdom-less Prince, forms a risky pact to try to regain his throne. When the forces of light and darkness collide in the City of Mercy, old wounds are reopened, new alliances are tested, and the end of the world begins.
My Rating: ★★★★1/2 – Four and a Half Stars
Thank you to Netgalley and Little Brown UK for a copy of this e-arc in exchange for an honest review!
I buddy read this arc with Lili from Lili’s Blissful Pages, Susan from Novel Lives, and Becky from Becky’s Book Blog, who were all just as excited as me to read this sequel! Make sure you check out their reviews by clicking on their names in the previous sentence.
As the Shadow Rises is a fantastic sequel to Pool’s debut, There Will Come A Darkness. I am sure most readers have experienced that middle book slump. Too often there is a great start to a trilogy that is followed up by a lackluster sequel. No one can accuse Pool of struggling with this. This book is unputdownable from the beginning all the way through to the crazy last chapters.
In this sequel, we continue to follow the same five characters as their story arcs intertwine. The biggest complaint I saw about There Will Come A Darkness was that there were too many main characters and points of view to follow. While this is a negative aspect for some, it is one of the reasons I love this series. Pool’s decision to weave multiple characters’ storylines together not only gives us the satisfaction of seeing how they all overlap but allows her to flesh out the world she has created way beyond what just one or two POVs would.
Ephyra’s chapters throw us into the hunt for the chalice, which could potentially save her sister’s life. At the end of the previous book, Beru left, telling Ephyra not to follow her. I think it was a great decision to separate the sisters. Ephyra was one of my least favorite characters in the previous book. No matter how many times she insisted she did the horrible things for Beru, it was clear that it was truly because she feared being alone if Beru died. Without her sister, Ephyra is forced to find out who she is on her own, and I loved it. Her chapters were some of the ones I looked forward to most.
When we see Beru for the first time in this book, she is trying to live out her final days atoning for the lives that her sister has taken to ensure Beru’s suurvial. Therefore, she spends her time tending the wounds of injured fighters at a fighting pit. That is until the plot twist that happens in chapter three. I can’t discuss Beru’s chapters much without spoiling them, but I loved seeing her on her own just as much as I did with Ephyra. Unfortunately, Beru got the least amount of chapters, just like in the last book. All I am saying is that after that ending, Beru better get her fair share of chapters in the final book of the trilogy.
Hassan’s portion of the book was the most disappointing. His plotline feels pretty generic and has aspects that didn’t add up logically for me. He also feels disconnected from the other characters, who all have strong ties to one another. I genuinely like Hassan as a character and hope to see him given more depth and importance to the story in the final book.
Jude and Anton have to be discussed together for obvious reasons. At the beginning of the book, they both start out confused. Jude because he has lost his Grace, his sword, and might lose his position as Keeper of the Word. And Anton is still processing that he is the prophet. Jude and Anton are often together, resulting in their plotline getting a lot of “page-time.” This left me annoyed with Jude’s chapters. Since they were together and I like Anton’s POV better, I wanted to hear from him instead. Plus, I’m sorry, but Jude felt so whiny to me in this book.
In the cast of side characters, there are a few familiar faces and a few new ones. When it comes to the old ones, I definitely had a change of heart on a few, for better or for worse. I love how Pool keeps developing her characters, which keeps my opinions continuously changing.
The plot is fast-paced and ends with a bang. A crazy amount happens in the final chapters. While some of my fellow “buddy-readers” thought it was too much, it was great to me. I loved seeing all the big reveals and everything coming together.
Overall, I loved this book. It has minor flaws (hence the half star reduction), but it is one of the best YA fantasy series I have read. I highly recommend it.