Review of A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows FinalRating: 3.5/5

Published: February 23rd, 2016 by Tor Books

Series: Book 2 in Shades of Magic

Length: 512 pages

Genre: Adult fiction, Fantasy

Source: Borrowed from library

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

After I read A Darker Shade of Magic last month, I had been dying to get my hands on its sequel, A Gathering of Shadows. I really wanted to see what was in store of Lila and Kell after everything that happened. And while I did truly enjoy this second book, it wasn’t quite as good as the first had been.

The biggest problem I had was that there was basically no plot for the first half of the book. During this time, we’re pretty much just reading about Kell, Lila, and Rhy and how the events of book 1 have impacted them. Because I really love these characters, I still enjoyed reading this, but it definitely took me a lot longer to get through that first half than it would have if there had been some sort of plot going on.

Around halfway through, we see a plot emerge. In fact, there’s actually kind of two plots: one involves the Assen Tasch (Element Games) and the other involves the new king of White London. Both were really entertaining and often suspenseful and I found it hard to get myself to stop reading at times.

a gathering of shadows

One other small complaint I had is that I would have liked to see more of Lila and Kell together. They don’t really interact with each other at all until maybe 50 or so pages to the end. I really like them as a pair so I definitely would have liked seeing more of them together.

With that said, I also really liked getting to see them as individuals. During A Darker Shade of Magic, they spend the majority of the book together. So getting to see how they act and who they are on their own was something I really liked. So even though I said I would have liked to see more of Lila and Kell together, it’s kind of hard to say.

The highlight of this book is the cast. The characters are wonderful and complex and feel so real. I particularly enjoyed getting to know Rhy, as he played only a minor role in the first book, but took center-stage at some points during this one. I have to admit, he may actually be my favorite (although Lila is a tough competitor for that title). The characters though are what really carry this book and it was great to see what they were up to, how former events have impacted them, etc.

All in all, A Gathering of Shadows was a solid read, even if it wasn’t quite as strong as its predecessor. I will say however that it had a very strong finish and a massive cliffhanger that has me dying to read book 3, A Conjuring of Light.

3.5 stars

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