Oh man. I cannot tell you how worried I was for this book. Sequels are always a strange thing that can either take a series and elevate it, completely ruin it, or be completely stagnant. And as slow of a start as A Darker Shade of Magic was, I was super nervous.
But also, really excited for this book.
I am going to try really, really hard not to spoil too much, but I mean, don’t read this review if you haven’t read the book. GO READ THIS BOOK. (And again, THESE COVERS.)
Unfortunately, I started this review weeks ago, just to have a disagreement with WordPress for about a week. I lost about half of the review, so this’ll be fun to recreate, now that I am four books later….
A Gathering of Shadows
V.E. (Victoria) Schwab
Format: ebook and Hardback
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: / 5 Moose
Four months after the end of the last book, everyone’s life is moving forward despite being on a different path. Delilah has found her place as the best thief on a pirate ship, though she has began to get a familiar itch of needing to move on, keeping any relationships more than an arm’s length away. Her captain, Alucard Emery, keeps quiet just as quiet about his past as Lila does, but is willing to teach her magic.
In Red London, the citizens are preparing for the Essen Tasch, or the Element Games, a 4 year event where the top magicians get together and battle it out. Everything on the outside seems quite normal, but Rhy and Kell both know that things aren’t. Rhy is more somber and has thrown himself into booze and planning the best event (thus planning how to be the best king) and Kell is feeling more and more like he’s trapped and an object, rather than a family member.
While things seem rather normal in Red London, Black, White and Grey London are experiencing some very weird abnormalities.
As these characters are mostly the same from the first book, I decided to pull a quote on each character instead:
Kell and Rhy — “Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.”
“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”
Delilah Bard — Lila on herself, (alluding to her cockiness maybe a little…) “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.”
Alucard Emery — This quote describes Alucard best: “’My father was a vulture. My mother was a magpie. My oldest brother is a crow. My sister, a sparrow. I have never really been a bird.’ Lila resisted the urge to say he might have been a peacock. It didn’t seem the time.”
Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts
I….look. I’ll admit straight up, I have very few complaints about this book. Like atom sized minor complaints:
- Cliff hangar — WHY
- Occasionally I wanted to kick Lila (but I totally think that’s the point)
- It would jump to a new POV too soon! TOO SOON!
I mean, this book has a bit of everything in it. I just…first of all, Victoria:
It has a female character who has her own story, and doesn’t give a shit about her romantic interest in relation to everything else (so she might be a sociopath, she still has a heart!) She’s a pirate and is working on her magic, while realizing she might be in love, but who cares?! She lives in a new world that’s completely worth exploring!
The way Kell’s confinement is described and portrayed, you can’t help but feel for him. I found myself just yelling at him to escape and runaway — live you’re own life! but his ties to Rhy are (obviously) just too strong. And ugh RHY. I am so glad there was more of him in this book. I don’t necessarily have a favorite character in this series (HOW CAN YOU, THEY ARE ALL FOUR WONDERFUL!?) but I was glad to get out of Lila and Kell’s world a little bit, and into Rhy’s mind especially. A character that, in the first novel could be considered a spoiled brat prince, is instead a complicated and fun character.
The love stories in this book are just lovely. They’re fluid and ever changing — who is really in love with whom? When you think you might know, it changes. And leads to some great, excellent, force your friend to read the book because of the snogging scenes.
But this isn’t a love story (though if you want to know — I argue that everything is essentially a love story.) No, this is a book about power and magic, about embracing it and understanding the delicate balance of it. Lila is starting to come into her powers with the help of Alucard, and she is able to control two elements. But she ignores the balance needed to control the elements, and at some point she’s going to have to pay in order to balance it again. In a larger manner, all the other Londons — Black, White and Grey — are all in their own battles for power. Really, if I say much more it’ll be spoilers, but Red London is not as safe as it thinks it is. White London has a new king, to say the least. There is PLENTY of battles and action and MAGIC. I mean, Lila had the right idea. Who would want to live in a world without MAGIC?
And the CLIFFHANGER.
As I said before, I was worried about this book. Sequels are incredibly hit or miss in the literary world, and unfortunately, they often lean on the “miss” side. THIS BOOK IS A HIT. It relies on the first book enough to continue it but doesn’t retell the first book, it continues the story without really any cliché tropes, with the exception of a cliffhanger ending (DAMMIT) and has an excellent balance of character building and action.
I am restraining myself from picking this book up and reading it again. I haven’t had the urge to do that since I read a Harry Potter book in high school.
And you should be reading it.
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