A Gathering of Shadows – V.E. Schwab
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.
In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like 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.
But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.
Earlier this year, I tore through V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. I loved it so much, I wrote TWO different reviews (which ended up being published on the same day), recommended it to just about everyone who mentioned the word “book”, and ordered the sequel from the UK (so that my set would match!).
I’m calling it right now: A Gathering of Shadows may end up being my Best Book of 2016.
Because I read the first one so recently, I didn’t need any refresher, which was good because the story throws you right back into Red London. I didn’t think it was possible, but Lila Bard became 1000 times cooler than she already was. You wanna talk about strong female characters? Lila is one of the strongest out there. She’s tough, street-smart, and hella powerful. Literally – much of this book deals with Lila coming to terms with her new-found powers/control over the elements.
Strength and weakness are tangled things…They look so much alike, we often confuse them, the way we confuse magic and power.
While Red London is hosting their international magic game (I’m picturing a cross between the Triwizard Tournament and the Olympics), Kell and Rhy are adjusting to their newly complicated bromance. For reasons that you’d know if you read the first one, their lives are even more entangled than before, and it’s made them both restless and reckless. Kell is also struggling with his role in the kingdom, as everyone seems to blame him for the events of the Black Night.
This book should be held up as an example of How to Write Multiple Perspectives and Keep Your Audience Hooked. I was mesmerized by all the POVs (obviously Kell and Lila’s were my favourites, but Rhy is such a scene-stealer and the other minor story line had me squawking in alarm), and hurtled through the last hundred pages. That ending destroyed me in the best way (that last line? I felt chills) but OH MY GLOB, I CANNOT WAIT for the next book.
My only complaint would be that it took forever for Lila and Kell to meet up again but IT WAS WORTH IT. Those two make me squeal and fail all over the place because they’re just so perfect for each other. I want to read about them forever. Honestly, I love all the characters – the ones we’ve met before and the new ones who are just as intriguing (‘sup, Alucard Emery, my pirate-y friend). And while I normally appreciate unhappy endings – sometimes, I even prefer them – I will cry enough tears to flood Red London’s Isle if someone dies in book three.
Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.
It’s hard for me to review this one because most of the parts I loved are spoilery and you do NOT want to spoil this read. I managed to avoid reading reviews before picking this up, and I’m glad I did because it’s a journey you MUST take on your own. It has elements that will appeal to anyone, and the writing is so smooth, it’s a genuine delight to read. I bow down to you, Victoria Schwab, for your writing is gorgeous and so are your characters (both physically and personality wise).
If you haven’t already, pick this series up. And then come talk to me because I need to fangirl.