Pages: 512 (US Hardcover)
Publication Date: 23 February 2016
My rating: 4.5/5 stars!
“Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don’t want to die – dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were actually doing before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall
A Gathering of Shadows begins four months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic. Due to a turn of events that leads them in separate directions, we see Lila has taken up a spot as resident thief upon a ship called The Night Spire and Kell has remained in Red London, adjusting to his new life bound to the fate of his brother Rhy. The chapters alternate between Lila’s time at sea, Red London, and White London (for reasons I won’t go into because of spoilers). The chapters also go back and forth in time, bouncing between the present and a few months prior, filling in the gaps of the duration between books.
I’ll start this off by saying that this book feels a bit harder for me to rate than the first book, A Darker Shade of Magic. While I obviously enjoyed this book, I will say that I found it to be slower paced than its predecessor. I wouldn’t say that I was ever bored while reading, because, let’s be honest, V.E. Schwab’s writing is just too phenomenal to ever drive one to boredom. I will say, however, that I expected a more action after the emotional rollercoaster I was given in ADSoM. There were some parts that took me quite some time to get through while there were other moments where I found myself racing to find out what happens next. This book felt a lot like a filler for me, but that often happens in trilogies as the middle book continues events from the previous book and sets up plot lines the final book continues and later brings to a close.
I think my favourite aspect of this book was the character development. Rhy plays a much bigger role in this book than in ADSoM and for that I am forever grateful because his character is a great deal more complex than he once seemed. Kell is still my precious grumpy Antari, but we see some of his walls come down a bit and get a glimpse of a softer side of him (if only for a moment). Kell and Rhy’s relationship is such a wonder to behold because those two care so deeply for one another and would go to any length to protect each other. Lila Bard is still one of my all-time favourite female characters. She is fierce and strong and I love that I got to see her explore her magic more, even if both of us are still unsure about the depths of her power. Alucard Emery was a new addition to the Shades of Magic world but most certainly a welcome one! He’s clever, witty and handsome and while Kell may not be Alucard’s biggest fan, I am very interested in this new character. I could tell there is certainly more than meets the eye with him; much like Lila, he is not very forthcoming with details about his past so there is something so enigmatic and intriguing about that. I can’t wait to see what other shenanigans he gets up to next!
I enjoyed witnessing the Essen Tasch, or the Element Games, and loved picturing all the different magical tricks the talented magicians were utilising in the games. I won’t say too much about those because ~spoilers~ but there are some definite unexpected twists happening then!
The ending of this book definitely made me happy that I had A Conjuring of Light next to me ready to go because I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to wait for the next book to come out! I’m excited to see where the story goes because I need things to change for the better for my precious characters!
Have you read A Gathering of Shadows? Who is your favourite character in the series? Tell me all about it in that handy little box below!
Until next time,