Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Count: 509
“Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”
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 is SO much better than A Darker Shade of Magic, in my opinion. The world building is phenomenal as we expand our world(s) past London, the characters are still my favorite things in the entire world (both old and new), and I absolutely adored the entire book.
Last book may have been Kell’s book, but this time around it’s the wonderful Delilah Bard’s book. Lila is off living life to the fullest in Red London aboard a pirate ship and exploring her new abilities. I loved all the scenes on the Night Spire because they highlight how powerful of a person Lila is, and how she’s not afraid of anything. She’s wonderfully sassy, bold, and a little bit brash at times, but she’s charmed her way onto my all time favorite character list.
All of the characters had some amazing development this time around. Kell is struggling to find his place after the events of the previous book, Rhy becomes a more fleshed out and real character with emotions, even Holland is a totally new character. Our newest addition to the cast is Alucard Emery, the captain of the Night Spire. He’s everything I could’ve wanted in a pirate, charming and sly, well developed, and has an interesting past with some other characters.
The majority of the story follows the Essen Tasch, which is a magical competition between Red London and the neighboring cities. Let me just tell you, I was a big, big fan of this. When the matches were going on, it was like I reading an episode of The Last Airbender. The competition is mostly light and fun, but is also full of gritty, on the edge of your seat scenes. It truly showed off the strengths and weaknesses of some of our main characters.
Every once and a while, a chapter about White London is thrown in, which follows Holland. I’m not going to say much because that’s a spoiler, but the chapters draw you even deeper into the story and are wonderfully dark (while simultaneously happy… it’s weird).
I applaud Schwab on her outstanding ability to balance all aspects of her story perfectly. There were no unnecessary diversions from the main plot, everything tied together in the end beautifully, and the romance is a sub plot- not the main plot. I’ve found this issue a lot in YA fantasy, the actual fantasy aspects get lost within the romance. This is so NOT the case with AGOS. Actually, I wouldn’t have minded if there were a few more romance scenes in the book. Schwab’s writing style is perfect for this type of story. It’s enchanting yet still simplistic, and the whole book was written so well.
Overall, A Gathering of Shadows outdid my expectations in terms of plot and world/character development. I was completely enchanted by the magic of the story once again, and I can not wait for the third book (which I’m getting tonight!). If you have yet to pick up this book, or the series… I highly recommend them! Plus, you can now marathon the whole series.
P.S. Any other Seattle area people going to the ACOL launch event tonight at Third Place Books? Let me know if you are, it would be SO fun to meet some other bloggers.