Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
Standalone/Series: Book 2 in the Shades of Magic trilogy
Genre: Adult – Fantasy
My rating in stars: 5 stars
My rating in words: NEW ALL-TIME FAVORITE!
What it’s about:
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.
My thoughts (Spoiler-free):
“How do you know when the Sarrows is coming?
(Is coming is coming is coming aboard)
Why you don’t and you don’t and you won’t see it coming,
(You won’t see it coming at all.)”
This book was amazing and this series has just jumped right to the top of my favorites list! How do I even begin to review this book? I feel like a flailing idiot, running around in circles with these big heart eyes, throwing this book at people while shouting “READ THIS BOOK NOW!”. I just love it, okay? Please read this series if you haven’t yet. You will definitely not regret it!
Allow me to flail a bit in more detail:
THESE CHARACTERS ARE THE BEST CHARACTERS IN THE HISTORY OF EVER. While A Darker Shade of Magic was more plot-driven, A Gathering of Shadows is more character-driven. Though we already got to know the characters in the previous book, this is the book that will turn your affection for them into full-blown love and obsession. I have fallen in love with every single character.
Kell is just this amazing, sweet, snarky, contantly-frowning little cinammon roll who is suffering under the events and decisions he made in book one. He’s slowly going out of his mind and training like crazy so he’s even more badass. Not to mention, he’s an amazing brother.
“He flashed up in her vision like a flare, auburn hair and that constant furrow between his eyes: one blue, one black. Antari. Magic boy. Prince.”
The brotherly love really is amazing. We get a lot more Rhy in this and it has made me so happy. Rhy is such a sassy, snarky little one and he shines in all his scenes, no matter which other characters he’s interacting with. Of course, he’s also suffering a lot due to previous events so it helps that we get his POV so we can understand him better.
“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.”
Lila is… well, she’s Lila. Our little thief with a dream of becoming a pirate is off doing her thing. Which of course means a lot of trouble and some pretty reckless choices, because that’s just who she is. I mean, she basically has her own theme song. That’s how awesome she is.
“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.”
And then there’s the new guy in town: Alucard. At first I wasn’t that interested in him, because I felt he was taking time away from the other characters. But eventually I warmed up to him and I considered him the perfect addition to the group. I loved his friendship / mentor thing he had going on with Lila. And I loved learning about his connection to Kell and Rhy and seeing how it all fit together and I can’t wait to learn more about what happened.
“She straightened. “You tried to seduce me, for information.”
“You can’t hold that against me forever.”
“It was last night.”
A KICKASS MAGIC COMPETITION. Even though there is a LOT of focus on characters and character development, there are still some pretty awesome things going on plot-wise. One of those is the Essen Tach, which is this completely awesome magic competition that has duels between elemental magicians. So of course I adored everything about them. But there is still so much more going one behind the scenes and it is one hell of a ride!
THIS WORLD! WE SEE MORE THAN JUST LONDON! The worldbuilding was already pretty much perfection with the different Londons and the travelling between them and the magic system. But now we get even more! We already kind of knew the country of Arnes, because it’s where Red London is, but because of the competition we also get to know the people of the neighbouring countries, Faro and Vesk.
LILA’S NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH A SHIP OBSESSION. Okay, in A Darker Shade of Magic I did not ship anyone. Or better said, I kind of shipped everybody, because everybody had crazy chemistry with each other. But here? OMG, I never shipped two characters together that much when they didn’t even see each other for 85% of the book. Kell and Lila are each on their separate journey, but the other person is never far from their mind. They might deny it all they can, but they were constantly thinking of each other and it was adorable and made for one hell of a reunion. And they aren’t even the only ship that had me intrigued!
“Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”
OH MY GOD, THAT CLIFFHANGER! I was late to the party. I only read A Darker Shade of Magic mid this year and waited a few months to start A Gathering of Shadows, so I could make the wait for book three, A Conjuring of Light, a bit more bearable. BUT WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ENDING? How am I supposed to wait another 3 months to find out what happens next? I mean, that ending was both genius and brutal and I NEED MORE! I can only imagine what the poor people who read this book when it came out and had to wait a whole year for answers have to go through.
So, basically, I can’t recommend this series enough. Please excuse me while I resume my flailing and keep screaming at you to PLEASE READ THIS BOOK! It has amazing, fully-fleshed, morally grey characters, delicious worldbuilding, magic and intrigue.
“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”
“Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.”
“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.”
“Look, everyone talks about the unknown like it’s some big scary thing, but it’s the familiar that’s always bothered me. It’s heavy, builds up around you like rocks, until it’s walls and a ceiling and a cell.”