Title: As the Shadow Rises
Series: The Age of Darkness #2
Author: Katy Rose Pool
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 1st, 2020 (Henry Holt & Co. BYR)
Synopsis: 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.
Jude has returned to Kerameikos in disgrace, set to face a tribunal to determine his punishment for breaking the Paladin’s Oath. Anton, now revealed as the last Prophet, is safe with the Order, but struggles to deal with the weight of the responsibilities that now lay upon him – the most important of which is to figure out the meaning of the horrific visions of destruction he has seen and find a way to stop the Age of Darkness. Ephyra is determined to find Eleazar’s Chalice and use it to save her sister Beru no matter the cost. Beru, on the other hand, has had enough of leading a cursed life and resolves to atone for the lives Ephyra has taken in what time she has left. Hassan has returned to Nazirah with no real plan to take back his throne, but willing to do whatever it takes to keep his people safe – even joining up with some questionable allies. As the Hierophant and his fanatical followers, the Witnesses, continue to persecute the Graced, the prophecy is well underway and the Age of Darkness and the end of the world is fast approaching.
There Will Come A Darkness was my favourite new series from last year and I had very high expectations for the sequel. As the Shadow Rises did not disappoint – in fact it surpassed it, all without a hint of the dreaded second-book syndrome. Even with multiple storylines in places so far apart, each is so unique and beautifully described that it was easy to imagine that I was there, right alongside those characters. I love Katy Rose Pool’s writing style and the world-building I so enjoyed in the last book only got better.
I am entirely too invested in the fates of these characters, with the exception of possibly Ephyra. Her mindset hasn’t really changed nor did she seem to have much character growth in this book, and although she is working to save her sister, I still can’t really bring myself to sympathize with her. She’s still the same girl, if a little lost without what has been her main purpose in life, but she seems to be headed down an even darker path than before, especially now that she no longer has Beru to moderate her already questionable morals. It is fascinating to see just how far she is willing to go to save her, as she joins up with a group to trace the Chalice – plus an unexpected addition. Her plotline in this book was a strong one, and it’ll be interesting to see where she goes next, now that there appears to be a marked change in the tone of her character.
Jude is not in a very good place at the beginning of this book. He couldn’t stop Hector from running off on a mission to kill the Pale Hand, his Grace may or may not have been burnt from him when he fell through Godfire in Nazirah and then there’s his growing attraction to Anton. Jude is clearly struggling with what has been taught to and expected of him his entire life versus for once, doing what he wants. Anton continues to have ominous visions of the Hierophant and his followers as he starts to see their plans to instigate the Age of Darkness, not to mention, he has yet to remember the complete prophecy he dreamt years ago – no mean feat as he still struggles with nightmares whenever he tries to use his Grace. It was truly a delight to watch him grow and gain faith in himself in this book. Jude and Anton, in my opinion, are the two characters who had the most growth in this book, and can I just say I adore the two of them together? Their dynamic is perfect and their interactions provide the rare lighthearted and downright adorable moments in this narrative.
Hassan’s POVs are comparatively fewer, but he certainly makes some eyebrow-raising decisions, and very risky ones at that – but he is supposed to be the Deceiver of the prophecy after all – and it was good to see him taking some decisive action for once rather than the largely passive role that he previously had. He was less prominent in this book than I expected, but no doubt will have an important role to play going forward. Beru is determined to atone for the lives Ephyra has taken all these years to keep her alive, aware that the esha she gained with Hector’s death will not sustain her for much longer. Meanwhile, all that fretting over Hector’s fate might have been a little premature, now that the prophecy has yet another possible angle. This ship, on the other hand, is one I’m not too sure about, but I’m curious to see where it’ll go.
It’s hard to say any more without spoilers, but so much happened in this book that it’s going to take a while to process, and no doubt I’ll end up with even more questions than I already have. I’ll say right now that this my rating for this book is subject to change over the next day or two while I process since I’m having the best kind of book hangover right now. I continue to be astonished that this series is Katy Rose Pool’s debut. The plot twists were better than ever, and there was barely time to recover from one shocking reveal before the next one appears. This series is bad for my blood pressure, honestly, and there were moments where I had to just put the book down and walk away to get my thoughts together. Things really came to a head in this book and I can’t wait to see what happens next. This series continues to be each and everything I adore about the fantasy genre and I have no doubt the finale will be even better. It’s a really underrated series in my opinion, and I would highly recommend checking it out – it’s definitely worth the read!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: There Will Come A Darkness