The Book Barrio

A Blog for Fantasy and Romance Readers


Young Adult Fantasy

Review: A Gathering of Shadows by

A Gathering of Shadows Final

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab


A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab. The first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, was very unique and fast paced. Kell is an Antari, which means that he has the ability to travel between different worlds. In the book, there are different versions of the same world, which are separated by a veil of sorts. Kell lives in Red London and occasionally travels to the magic-less Gray London and the slightly corrupted White London. There used to be a Black London too, but it got too corrupted by dark magic and the city is said to be dead.

A Gathering of Shadows continues the story in the first book. Unlike the previous book that was full of action, intrigue and adventure, this book was a more like a preparation for the future epic battle to come. It also focuses on the aftermath of the first book, and how the characters adjust to the changes in their lives.

Here we see Kell face the consequences of his actions in the first book. I can’t really go into detail without being spoilery about the first book. But this book delves deeper into the relationship between Kell and his brother, Prince Rhy. The bromance was really impressive. In the meantime, Lilah is having a blast going sailing and joining pirates and such. She learns about how magic works and develops new skills of her own.

To add some spice to story, Red London is holding a tournament for magic wielders. It’s an important event to maintain the peace and healthy rivalry between nations. It’s also a way for certain characters to challenge themselves and get into fights. I just love love tournaments. No fantasy series is complete without having its own tournament episode, and this does indeed deliver.

The ending is a medium-level cliffhanger that left me wanting for more. I eagerly anticipate the next book in this series.

Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon | Goodreads


Review: The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner


Genre: Young Adult Fantasy


“I can steal anything.” So declares Gen, the hero of the Newbery Honor Book The Thief—an exciting adventure fantasy set in a mythical land rich with intrigue. Gen’s bragging lands him in prison . . . but then the king’s magus needs the thief’s skill for a near-impossible task: to steal a priceless magical jewel from a faraway land. 


I’ve been hearing good things about this YA book series for ages now. For some reason, I put off reading these until one day, I just wasn’t in the mood for anything and nothing could cure me. And so I saw this while I was browsing through my kindle and decided to try it. And boy was it so good. It was like finding an unexpected hidden treasure.

This is the kind of book that you read, and you read and read, and do not stop reading until you reach the very end. It was that good for me. I had to stay up late just so I could finish the first book, and when I was done with the first, I wanted the second book immediately. And when I was done with the second, I read the third. And then third book was so good that I had to read it again one more time, before going to the fourth book. All this happened in a span of 2.5 days. I kid you not.

The story centers around Gen, a thief who can steal almost anything. He is smart, witty, and with a sense of humor. The story is rich with intrigue. I love how Gen becomes a big part of what happens between the different kingdoms of the fantasy world. I also loved all the politics and strategic maneuvering that went on. I also really liked the little mythical stories within the story.

I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy and character driven stories.

Rating: 5 Stars

Amazon | Goodreads

Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy 


Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.


Walk on earth a stranger is a western young adult fantasy novel. It is set during the gold rush period in America. The heroine, Lee has the ability to sense gold, wherever it is. This proves to be a useful ability and it allows her family to get by. One day her parents are murdered, and their secret stash of gold is stolen. Lee is left alone and under the control of her uncle, who she suspects was behind the murder.

Luckily, gold has been discovered in California, and people from all over are travelling to California in the hopes of getting rich. Lee decides to take the dangerous journey and make her own fortune as well. She hurries to catch up with her childhood friend, Jefferson, who left earlier for California.

I normally do not read western novels. But this one I really liked. Lee is fifteen years old when the story starts. She is resourceful, sensible, and a good shot with a gun. She is smart about hiding her abilities, and also hardworking. Jefferson, her childhood friend, left his abusive father to make his own fortune as well. He is half-cherokee, and faces racial judgement from the people around him. Despite all this, there is a sense of goodness and honor in him. There is a possibility of a romance, but it’s too early to tell. If ever there will be one, it will probably be a slow burn. Their relationship is built on friendship and trust.

Lee and Jefferson join a company of travelers and we also get to meet characters from the company, who grow and change in the course of the journey. The interaction between these characters during the journey was the part I liked best. And yes, people die.

The story felt very real to me. And for someone who hasn’t read much westerns, this is excitingly different and new. I look forward to the future books in the series, which will probably be even more focused on Lee’s gold-finding abilities.

Rating: 4 stars


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Review: Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2) by Jennifer Estep

Genre: Young Adult – Urban Fantasy


As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight—or the danger.

Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious “accidents,” it looks like someone will do anything to win—no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone’s going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing’s for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else…


Excellent and fun. This is book 2 to Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series. For those who haven’t heard of this yet, book 1 can be found here.

The story is set in an urban setting wherein people have Talents or special abilities such as extra Strength, Sight, Speed, etc. The city is ruled by the Families that have most power. The heroine, Lila is now a part of the Sinclair family, as bodyguard to the heir apparent. And this time, there’s a tournament between the Families to see who the most skilled fighter is. Obviously, our heroine is chosen to compete.

It was such a fun read. I loved the action. The politics between the families provide sufficient intrigue. And not the mention the characters, Lila is so awesome and fierce, and her Transference and SoulSight powers kick ass. We also get to know more about the other characters, and even learn a few things about Lila’s mom. Lila also gains some potential allies for when she will one day take her revenge on the one who destroyed her family.

The writing is light, fast paced and very addictive. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book.

Rating: 4 stars

Amazon | Goodreads

Review: The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu

 Genre: Young Adult Fantasy


Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?


This is the second book in a series by author, Marie Lu. It’s a bit like X-men, where different characters have different powers, but this one’s set in a fantasy world. If you haven’t read it yet, book 1 can be found here.

Oh wow. What a dark book. It almost feels like the heroine is actually the villain. This is like reading a story told from the villain’s point of view. Starting from events of the first book, Adelina is off on a journey to search for other Young Elites like her, so she can take her revenge on the Inquisition. As great as her illusionist powers can be, she still needs a crew if she is to overthrow the kingdom.

In fairness to Adelina, the Inquisition really deserves whatever vengeance Adelina is planning to unleash. It’s an abusive government, led by a deranged man who thinks that all people with special abilities – Young Elites, should be extinguished. They rule with fear and oppression.

Adelina’s character becomes harsher, ruthless and more extreme than ever. She was abused and hated on by her father. She was betrayed by her friends and now she wants revenge. The anger and fear only serve to feed her powers. But despite it all, she still tries to cling to her humanity. She misses being one of the Daggers. She recalls the friendship and camaraderie they had. She has her sister, Violetta, who is supportive of her. And she makes new elite friends.

We get to meet new characters with some wicked special abilities that definitely make the story interesting. There may even be a possibility of another love interest for Adelina. But it’s too early to tell.

I can’t really say much without giving the story away. All I can say is that it’s not your typical Young Adult novel with heroic deeds and righteous quests and swoon-worthy hero. This is a villainous story that will leave you confused on whether to root for the main characters or not. And I freaking loved it.

Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon | Goodreads

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Amazon | Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I didn’t expect that Leigh Bardugo’s latest book would top the epic Shadow and Bone Trilogy, but boy was I wrong.

Six of Crows is set in the Grisha World, probably years after the events of the Shadow and Bone books. The story begins in Ketterdam, one of the countries beyond Ravka, where gangs rule, and grisha are considered servants or slaves.

Kaz Brekker is an unforgettable gangster. Hardened and ruthless, he is a mastermind manipulator, collector of secrets, and a genius trickster. I really enjoyed all the elaborate scheming and conniving that took place.

Kaz wanted revenge on the man who took everything away from him. But in order to do that, he needed take on the craziest, most dangerous heist he’s ever encountered, breaking a high security prisoner out from the Ice Court. Failure meant death. But success meant everything.

Accompanying Kaz on this crazy adventure, was Inej, also known as the Wraith, the best at sneaking and ferreting out the secrets of the rich. Nina, a grisha heartrender, who escaped from fjerdans only to spend her life trying to save one. Matthias, a conflicted fjerdan betrayed by a grisha, imprisoned and hungry for vengeance. Jesper, a gambling addict, sharpshooter with some secrets of his own. And Wylan, son of a merchant turned gangster member, and also there as leverage.

This story was full of twists and turns and the characters were always one step ahead in solving the puzzles. Each person in crew had a reason for taking on the crazy scheme. Up until the very end, i just wanted more of Kaz and his crew. There were also some lines in the dialogues that were just pure perfection. But I’m not quoting them here so that you get to feel the full punch when you read.

Highly recommended for fans of the Grisha Trilogy.

Rating: 5 Stars

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