A Gathering of Shadows
By: V.E. Schwab
Release Date: February 23rd 2016
Format: Print ARC
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
It would be fair to say I had some freakishly high hopes for this sequel since I loved the first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, so very much. I’ve been a long time fan of Schwab having read each of her books as they release. I really do think that with every new book her writing, characters and story continue to improve (how is that possible?)
When jumping into a sequel I always question if I’ll be able to connect since it’s been a long while since I read the first book. Inevitably the question arises- should I reread book one? I didn’t bother to and yet I was easily transported back to this world. I found myself loving how Schwab built upon A Darker Shade of Magic and threw me right back into feeling tense and needing to see how it would all come out. I am always pleased when the events of the first novel have major effects on what happens in the sequel and was very pleased to see that this carried through with A Gathering of Shadows.
This was the type of book that I tried to read slowly so that I could savor every word and really allow myself the time to get immersed in the world and feel what the characters are feeling. I found this to be pretty tricky because I kept speeding through the words to find out what happened next. I had a constant battle of trying to slow down yet wanting to see what happened next.
Schwab is a master of setting and adding in creative bits that make her work unique and so completely captivating. It’s easy to forget that you are reading about a fantasy world because it becomes all too real. Her descriptions are so vivid and detailed yet not overly long. In this sequel we continue with where the first book left off but with the addition of a new element- a magical game- the Element Games. I’ve got to admit the idea of a magical inspired game to find the best has been done before…often. But, still, somehow this felt new.
I love that the characters in these books are so well developed and complex. The events of the first book changed each of them and helped to shape their actions. It was easy as the reader to understand their motivations and relate to their story. I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite character- each was so well done. The interactions between characters was done beautifully and as always I love their dialog and banter. You don’t need to be told what they mean to each other you can feel it.
The romance was very scarce but the slow burn between the characters was so evident and major strides to occur (you just have to be patient for them). I was literally at the edge of my seat waiting for the pieces to fall in place and needing to have these characters in the same room speaking (kissing). Don’t expect for the characters to get face to face for many, many pages but trust me, the wait was worth it. Schwab is a master at writing build up between characters and, as with the first novel, you are easily at her mercy (and loving it).
I will give out a warning- this book ends on a cliff hanger (evil, evil cliffhanger). If you are sensitive to that be forewarned.
I really can’t speak highly enough about this series and recommend that anyone with the desire to read a captivating world with characters that you are in love with should read them.