A Gathering of Gargoyles by Meredith Ann Pierce: B+

From the back of the book, with edits for spoilers:
Aeriel may’ve done something interesting in book one, but the Witch is far from defeated! Her evil vampyre sons continue to blight the lands, defeating even the warders created by the Old Ones to protect them. There is but a single hope for the Witch’s defeat—solving an ancient, mysterious riddle.

So, Aeriel sets off to solve the riddle, sailing across a sea of dust and straight into the worst of the Witch’s terrors. But if Aeriel is to save the world, she will have to overcome the Witch’s darkangel sons and ultimately confront their terrifying mother face-to-face.

My enjoyment of this book was stymied by a few annoying things right off the bat. First, in the first book in this series, there wasn’t any mention of people with weird-colored skin. I’d swear, although I don’t have the first book to consult, that Aeriel was described as having a tan/rose complexion before the sun bleached her more fair. Now, they say she’s white, but it’s clear she was once mauve. And there’s all these blue and green skinned people and stuff.

Secondly, there’s the revisiting of scenes from book one and suddenly including some conversation that we never saw before, or a tidbit like, “Oh yeah, she gave those things names.” It makes it seem like the author wasn’t planning ahead. I would’ve preferred to have seen those conversations within the context of the scenes as they were taking place, then one could reflect back later and go ‘Ahh, I see’. I know this is YA, but c’mon. J. K. Rowling does it just fine!

Thirdly, after a bit of an angsty beginning, Aeriel goes off alone. This part is so dull, just a description of the landscape she’s passing through. At least the concept of time was more clearly portrayed this time.

It took me ages just to get to page 100. After this point, however, she gets some companions and the story picks up and its enjoyment value greatly improves. The annoying elements were primarily confined to the beginning of the book, and I eventually managed to stop being irked about the skin color thing. I read from page 100 to the end (333) in a day.

The overall plot is pretty predictable. I mean, obviously, she’s gathering gargoyles from the title, but their significance is incredibly obvious. It’s a little much to believe that while Aeriel acquires them she is ignorant of this. Still, I look forward to seeing more of certain characters in book three, and now that I’m two-thirds through the series it’d just be dumb to drop it now.

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