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

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, 2)
Author: V. E. Schwab
Genre: Alternative Universes, Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Books (23rd February 2016)

Kell is one of the last magicians with the ability to travel between parallel universes, linked by the magical city of London. It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into his possession and he met Delilah Bard. Four months since the Dane twins of White London fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body back into Black London.

Now Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila. And as Red London prepares for the Element Games – an international competition of magic – a certain pirate ship draws closer. But another London is coming back to life. The balance of magic is perilous, and for one city to flourish, another must fall . . .

Rating: **** (4 stars)

A GATHERING OF SHADOWS is the second book in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. It continues the stories of Kell and Delilah Bard, and takes place several months after the events of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC (review). Whilst Delilah is seeking adventure, Kell is facing the consequences of the choices he made, and another London is coming back to life.

I really enjoyed A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, so going into this book I had quite a few expectations and I can honestly say that V. E. Schwab did a great job of meeting them. If you read and enjoyed the first book in this series then I am pretty sure that you will love this one just as much. There is a lot going on in this book! I enjoyed being reunited with Kell and Lila, it was interesting to see how they had changed since I’d last seen them. I also liked seeing a bit more of Red London and the world it’s a part of – the Element Games mentioned in the blurb allows Schwab to show more of the world Kell is from, and I thought it was pretty interesting how Schwab showed different cultures.

The plot of A GATHERING OF SHADOWS at its most simple level is about dealing with the consequences of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC. Of course, Schwab makes it a bit more complicated than that – Schwab weaves numerous plot threads together to tell an interesting and complex story – but that’s the bare bones of the story. I really like the fact that this book, and series, is very much about balance – kind of like Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction – and that Schwab doesn’t gloss over consequences. There were definitely a few plot threads and plot twists I did not see coming at all in this book, and I liked that Schwab kept me guessing.

A GATHERING OF SHADOWS sees the return of some familiar faces, as well as the introduction of some new characters. Kell and Lila are interesting in this book. In a lot of ways, neither of them has really changed since we left them in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC – it’s familiar finding out what they are doing, and how things have changed for them. But at the same time, things are a little different – and I don’t really want to say too much, because spoilers, but Schwab gives them both interesting story arcs in A GATHERING OF SHADOWS. Schwab also introduces some new characters, of which my favourite is probably Alucard Emery. I’m definitely curious to see more of him, and hopefully we’ll learn more about him in the third book.

Overall I think A GATHERING OF SHADOWS is a fantastic addition to the Shades of Magic series. There were points where I found the reading a bit slow, but equally there were points where I couldn’t put the book down. I really enjoyed re-uniting with Kell and Lila. Schwab does a brilliant job with the world building, and I’m curious to see what’s going to happen in the third book.

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