A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor (Jan 2016)
Series: Shades of Magic #2
Format/Source: Hardback (a gift from a dear friend!)
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.
V. E. Victoria Schwab is quickly becoming one of my favourite fantasy writers out there. I loved This Savage Song and A Darker Shade of Magic completely blew it out of the park for me. I knew I had to get my hands on more of her books. Come Christmas, I received a gorgeous hardback of A Gathering of Shadows from a dear friend and never in my life, had I felt so lucky! If you want to check out my review of A Darker Shade of Magic, here it is!
“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.”
A Gathering of Shadows picks up about a few months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic where Kell and Lila parted ways to get on with their own lives. I know, heartbreaking for the pair because we know good and goddamn well that they wanted each other. Can we please rewind and swoon over their kiss at the end of A Darker Shade of Magic? (Minor spoiler. Sorry!)
The gang returns in the second instalment of this trilogy when the kingdom of Arnes gets its turn to host the Elemental Games (also known as Essen Tasch in Arnesian). Think of it as a tournament for magic wielders in Red London coming together to compete against each other to win a life of riches beyond imagination. Everything seems to be grand in Red London, especially with things set right in White London a few months ago.. (Schwab, you evil genius/mastermind!)
“Fix your crown, my prince,” he called back as he reached the door. “It’s crooked.”
I don’t even know where to begin in expressing my feelings for this book to you, mainly because it was such a brilliant story that left me reeling from the beginning to the end. I mean, I expected A Gathering of Shadows to be good – heck, I even had reservations before starting this book because I was worried that it might not live up to its hype – but little did I know, it was better than what I expected!
“My father was a vulture. My mother was a magpie. My oldest brother is a crow. My sister, a sparrow. I have never really been a bird.”
Lila resisted the urge to say he might have been a peacock. It didn’t seem the time.”
Dude, spider monkeys and sparkling oceans, where do I begin to profess my love for A Gathering of Shadows? What about the fact that the Lila, who is everything I want to be, discovers that she has an ounce of magic in her blood? Maybe it’s the fact that she gets to show the world that she’s a badass sass queen who can whoop ass as she disguises herself as a man and takes on other participants in the Essen Tasch?
“I am Delilah Bard, she thought, as the ropes cut into her skin. I am a thief and a pirate and a traveler. I have set foot in three different worlds, and lived. I have shed the blood of royals and held magic in my hands.”
Or I could start with my constant swooning of Rhy’s relationship with my new, sexy ass pirate fictional boyfriend, Alucard Emery – whose name is Dracula if spelt the other way around – and the fact that Rhy and Alucard are a match made in heaven? And can we all agree that Kell is a cinnamon roll that needs cuddles because he is so tightly wound by everything around him and the only remedy for that is kisses for our beloved cinnamon roll!
“Who needs magic when you look this good?”
Before starting A Darker Shade of Magic, I hadn’t a sliver of an idea that I would love the trilogy and its characters so much but I did. I fell in love with the Londons Schwab created. I fell in love with the characters and the whip-smart dialogue and the universes Schwab use to expand the world she created in the trilogy. And can I please know where I can get my very own magical coat like Kell’s?
Like the first book in the trilogy, A Gathering of Shadows is a work of art. I would say it’s the epitome of fantasy books because it’s got the intrigue, the power struggles, the political drama, the magic – Sanct, the magic – and the awesome duels in the arenas, the witty banter, the clever one-liners, the forbidden romance, a swashbuckling heroine and did I mention some pretty swoony kisses?
“What brings you to my room?” he asked, relief bleeding into annoyance.
“Adventure. Intrigue. Brotherly concern. Or,” continued the prince lazily, “perhaps I’m just giving your mirror something to look at besides your constant pout.”
Kell frowned, and Rhy smiled. “Ah, there it is! That famous scowl.”
Without a doubt, Schwab is a masterful writer and every word, phrase, sentence in A Gathering of Shadows just proves how much of an incredible storyteller she is, as she seamlessly conjures another heart-stopping, exciting follow up in the Shades of Magic trilogy. I admit, this review wouldn’t do A Gathering of Shadows justice but I implore you, give this trilogy a try. You won’t regret it.