“As the Shadow Rises” by Katy Rose Pool

Here’s another one I read while in a funky mood, busy, and in the midst of a reading slump. I enjoyed the first book despite it being a YA novel and me having given up on YA novels, so I was looking forward to reading this second one. But, similar to my reading experience with Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade, I didn’t enjoy this much while reading (due to my mood at the time) but appreciated the story when briefly looking through before working on this review.


Genre

YA Fantasy

Series

Age of Darkness, book 2

Pubbed

2020

From Goodreads

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. (Goodreads)


My thoughts

The Age of Darkness series are fantasy books that take place in a world inspired by Ancient Mediterranean society, cultures, and land forms. In this world, some people have abilities, called Graces, that enable them to manipulate their or others’ esha (soul, I guess) to do amazing things. There are four Graces: Grace of Heart, which can make a person faster or stronger; Grace of Blood, which can be used to heal or harm others; Grace of Mind, which enables one to create unique objects that do incredible things; and Grace of Sight, which can be used to sense or locate living things or any object with an esha. Part of the conflict in the story is that the Hierophant, a dude who’s quickly gathering a strong following, is denouncing the Graces and the religion around them and is trying to destroy all associated with the Graces.

The story is told from the perspective of several characters, all who are teenagers involved in the outcome of the world: an Age of Darkness is coming and the Last Prophet can probably help to stop it. The first book ended with one of the POV characters acknowledging and accepting that he is the Last Prophet. I don’t feel like getting too much into the details of what happens in this second book, but basically it seems that the Age of Darkness has begun, and I am not confident that the characters will be able to save the world. It seems an insurmountable task considering what they’ll need to defeat and/or lock away for good.

As I mentioned above, I didn’t enjoy reading this book as much as I did the first one, and I blame that on my funky reading mood. I was much less patient with the characters and the pace of the story this time and was very tempted to skim some parts since the only characters I was interested in reading about were Jude and Anton: Jude because of his struggle with his identity and belief and therefore his Grace, and Anton because of his connection to the prophecy and the Nameless Woman.

(minor spoilers below)

The other characters have interesting arcs as well, but they weren’t as appealing, unfortunately. I liked Beru in the first book, but I didn’t care for the romance developing in her arc, although I found it interesting considering the revenant connection and the fact that the feelings are probably being mirrored rather than reciprocated.

I have a hard time liking any character who’s motivated by anger or revenge or any such thing, so it’s a given that I no longer care for Ephyra and certainly do not care for the abusive-seeming relationship with Illya. And at first I liked the inclusion of a new cast of characters when Shara, the Thief King, and her crew were introduced, but they didn’t add much to the story except to push Ephyra to admit her vulnerabilities to herself. I actually agree with Ephyra that Shara is a not a good Thief King (something like that she said). I think Ephyra could have found the Chalice without their help.

And I’ve also lost interest in Hassan as well, although a spark of interest in his arc was renewed once he seemed to join up with the Hierophant. I do not care for Khepri, his girlfriend, or their relationship and am hoping they go their separate ways. However, I do like how much Hassan has grown and that he seems undaunted despite having no one on his side, not even his girlfriend who was SO committed to his cause at first. (I really don’t like her.)

Therefore, Jude and Anton had the most interesting storylines and a major reason why I believe so is because I am most interested in the religion, lore, and worldbuilding of the story, and we get a lot of this through Jude and Anton’s storylines because of their interactions with the Nameless Woman. We learn how the Graces and the Prophets came about and what exactly will bring about the Age of Darkness, which unfortunately shatters whatever faith Jude was desperately holding on to.

“The Prophets were the one thing I always believed in. My faith is all I have. The one certainty in my life, when I was uncertain of everything else. And I… I don’t know how to go on, if I don’t have that. I don’t know how to get it back.”

But this also gives Jude a glimmer of hope (I think) because he now has the freedom to live as he wants to — which I hope will help renew his Grace. I found all this fascinating and too the bits about the Necromancer King and his connection to Beru and Ephyra because that’s another bit of lore about the world. They were the most interesting parts.

There is also a developing romance between Jude and Anton that is sweet and tender, but I don’t care for it either. And that’s another thing I appreciate about this YA series. Romance develops between the characters but it does not dominate and consume the plot, which often happens in YA fantasy. The focus of the story remains the same with mentions of the developing romances here and there.

There were some surprising reveals as well, which were treats for me. For example, the Nameless Woman, who turned out to be who I thought she would be, but I was surprised all the same. The Necromancer King was also a surprise, but the way things turned out for him (and Ephyra) made me think the Daughters of Mercy are quite ineffective at what they do. But the Hierophant was the greatest reveal of all. I kind of suspected who he might be, but I was SO surprised.

I think I enjoy this story more in retrospect. At the time I read it, my funky reading mood made me less patient with the characters and things that did not work for me (like when some folks seem to move around quickly with no explanation for how they got from one place to another so fast). But this book was okay, and I would recommend it.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

If the story interests you, I recommend you give it a try.

This is the second in a trilogy, but I haven’t yet decided if I’ll read the third book. Sure, it’s just one more book to go but the end of this didn’t get me excitedly interested in trying the third since all I really care about is learning more about the world and the Graces and Prophets and such. So I’d prefer a summarized version that tells me how the events in the third book affects the world and the Graces… and if Jude gets his Grace back.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

10 thoughts on ““As the Shadow Rises” by Katy Rose Pool

  1. I find situations like this interesting, how I might not really get into a book while reading it, but later I find myself thinking about it and realize I kind of like the story. Perhaps that’s because memories shift over time and I’m able to remember it being more enjoyable than it was because some element caught my attention. Maybe I still wouldn’t enjoy it if I were to reread it. Or perhaps, like you, it could have simply been my mood, I read it at a bad time, and rereading it would be a much more enjoyable experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All great points. The point about how our memories shift things really stuck out to me. I think that could have also been a factor in my experience with this book. Certain things did pop out more when I reflected on the story.

      Like

  2. Just as in your case, one of the main strains caused by YA fiction is me loosing my patience with quirky teenage behavior. Also the story lines are mostly very predictable and follow the traditional black/white mentality of the teenage thinking pattern where grey still has to find its way in.

    Like

    1. I get what you mean. Sometimes the lack of gray areas make the stories unappealing to me too, but it’s the romance and sometimes anger as motivation that kicks me out the story.

      Liked by 1 person

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