A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Published by: Tor Books on February 23rd, 2016
Series: Shades of Magic Book 2
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.
SPOILER-FREE REVIEW AHEAD
I have an odd relationship with V.E. Schwab’s books. They have so much hype, and they’re some of the most beloved books in the reading community. I always want to love them, but for some reason, I always end up coming just short of that. I definitely enjoy her Shades of Magic series more than This Savage Song, but that’s just it: I enjoy them. I don’t love them. They’re not spectacular to me. I appreciate the world building, and I like the characters, and there’s always some good action, but for some reason, I always feel like her books are lacking some particular oomph.
Maybe part of it is because I read A Darker Shade of Magic back in April, and I’ve read so many books in between since then, so I didn’t really remember much at first. A Gathering of Shadows takes place four months after the events of the first book, and Lila is now part of the crew on a ship captained by
this guy whose name I already forgot Alucard, while Kell is stuck in the castle after being banned from traveling to the different Londons. The beginning was pretty boring, as I have found most of V.E. Schwab’s books to be, but then it got good around the 250-page mark, because that is when the Element Games began.
I am the kind of reader who loves any kind of tournament in books: The Hunger Games, the game in Caraval, etc, so I knew I would enjoy the Element Games. It was really interesting to read about the different rounds, and how Kell had to hold himself back a lot, since he–along with Lila–was pretending to be somebody else. However, I felt like the Games ended rather abruptly, and we didn’t really have a proper conclusion with them.
I feel like this book had a less defined plot than the first book, and maybe that’s why I didn’t like it as much. The plot was pretty much just the Element Games, and what was going on with Holland in White London. Like I said before, the pacing was really slow as well, and that made it hard to read at times, but maybe I’m just being such a harsh critic because this is the first book I’ve read after finishing the Lunar Chronicles, which was super action packed and had fantastic pacing.
I really do like Kell and Lila, though. Lila kind of reminds me of Celaena from the Throne of Glass series (before she became Aelin and turned into a complete bitch), but in a good way. Kell is a lot more hardened than a lot of male leads I’m used to reading about, but I enjoyed reading about him too. Like I said earlier, I don’t love any of these characters, but I do like them.
“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.“
We also got to learn some more about Rhy in this book, as well as the bond he shares with Kell. I feel like Rhy wasn’t as interesting in this book as he was in the first one, but I guess that’s what happens when you suffer from a near-death experience. We also learned a little more about who Rhy is, and I can’t go into details without spoiling, but I can say that I do wish V.E. Schwab had delved deeper into it, because it would have been really interesting to read about.
Before I read A Gathering of Shadows, I heard a lot about the ending and how heartbreaking and cliffhanger-ish it was. I have to say, I kind of guessed it about halfway through the book, but that didn’t make it any less insane when it happened. It really was a great ending, and it made me super excited to pick up the next book, which I am planning to get to either tonight or tomorrow.
I know that this review is shorter than most, but that’s because I really don’t have that much to say about A Gathering of Shadows. V.E. Schwab is a great writer, and I really wish I could love her books as much as everyone else does, but unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case. That being said, I still do enjoy this series, and I can’t wait to finish it off with A Conjuring of Light, which is waiting patiently for me on my shelf. Thanks for sticking around for my review, and I’ll see you all next time!