This is a review of:
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Book 2 of Shades of Magic series
an Adult Fantasy Fiction
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.
I just finished this and I’m still under it’s influence. So if my review is a unclear, rushed or vague, it’s because of that..
Caution: Major Spoilers ahead.. if you did not read the book, don’t read this review (I’m sorry, but because I loved this book I needed to gush about it)
I’ve been dying to read this book since I turned the last page of ADSoM last year. It kept haunting me and its presence was always in the back of my mind. I’m sure it’s a familiar feeling for some readers. Thus, I had ridiculously high expectations and it mainly centered around wanting to see more of Kell’s adventures through the portals. Because that part was so amazing and what gripped in ADSoM.
In AGoS, this traveling wasn’t abandoned per say but the focused was more on building character development after the events that took place in ADSoM.
At the end of ADSoM, Lila left to pursue the life of sea she craved. She gets what she wants, as she always does, and she joins the crew of The Night Spire. She tries to maintain her persona of a lone wolf but the long life of seamen and the company bring her out of her shell, a little. It’s the Captain, Alucard Emery, who she strikes a semi-friendship with. As much as she would deny this friendship. Their nights together, enjoying each other company, is also an introduction for her to the world of magic, as Emery tells her they’re heading to join the Element Games; a tournament between magicians from the kingdoms of Red London. So, Lila decides to learn magic.
“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”
Lila is such a great character, she is determined, fearless enough to go through her life as hard as it was and still knows what she wants and gets it. No matter how much she doubted she is still the amazing character she is. Her lonely nights and fear of familiarity, her constant want to hide and run are there but for a change, she is in a place where running isn’t an option, the ship. It was really great to see her in a stable environment. Although, in her essence she’s still wild. And that’s why her taking up magic is such a treat to see happening.
“Magic is tangled, so you must be smooth.
Magic is wild, so you must be tame.
Magic is chaos, so you must be calm.
Are you calm, Kell?”
After what he and Rhy did in ADSoM, it’s interesting to know how Kell would handle this new burden of the life bond he now shares with Rhy. It’s been four months and they have to look after Rhy’s every move and look to ensure his safety. Because of that, he feels trapped and this brings tension between them. Kell is also under strict scrutiny from the king and because of that Kell feels like it’s a punishment instead of appreciating what he did. And for him, that’s another reason why he feels like a stranger among whom he considered and loved as a family. No wonder the guy wanted to run.
“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”
His pain is apparent through everything he does and I really felt deep sorrow for him. Yep, he is my favorite character along with Lila.
“Every day. I wake up wanting to be a stronger person. A better prince. A worthy king. That want, it’s like a fire in my chest. And then, there are these moments, these horrible, icy moments when I remember what I did …” His hand drifted to his heart. “To myself. To you. To my kingdom. And it hurts….” His voice trembled. “More than dying ever did. There are days when I don’t feel like I deserve this.” He tapped the soul seal. “I deserve to be …” He trailed off, but Kell could feel his brother’s pain, as though it were a physical thing.”
Rhy! What can I say about this guy except I changed my opinion of him so drastically. The above quote shows that under the cover of charm and nonchalant, this prince desires to be as good as he’s expected to be. Maybe as good as his brother, the Antari. He’s striving for his share of power just to prove he’s worthy of things. Which is a strange mindset for a prince like Rhy.
The bond he shares with Kell now is another struggle he goes through between having his brother beside him and letting him go to do what he does best. He knows Kell is dying to spread his wings and fly and that’s why he tells him to join the tournament. He knows it’s a temporary fix but that’s how much he cares what his brother goes through because of him. They share mutual guilt and both can’t move past it.
This guy reminded me a lot of the Captain in Siege and Storm. They have the charming attitude, great strength of character and skill, the snark and wit and the friendliness. It makes you warm up to him instantly. He gets under a person’s skin so easily, he gets under Lila’s as much as she tries to resist it. Alucard is also mysterious even to Lila’s expert eye, nothing is revealed about him until halfway through. Once it was revealed, it gets more intriguing.
Kell & Lila
“… I’ve always been unique.”
“Yes, well, it is no wonder you and Kell attract. Both unique. Both … a bit …” Suddenly, conveniently, the language seemed to fail her.
“Mean?” offered Lila.
Calla smiled. “No, no, not mean. Guard up.”
One of the most awaiting moments of this book was when these two would reunite. After four months of separation, their feelings only intensified. What’s interesting about them as well was how in AGoS, each one’s actions and mindset paralleled the other. It was awesome. Lila’s desire to keep running mirrored Kell’s, her dangerous nature was the same as Kell’s, him joining the tournament under false name was the same as Lila’s. Their nature and story is one and the same that’s why they remain a strong part of this story.
I really LOVE this quote about them.. I nearly cried when I read it..
“He came to me, after you were gone. Master Kell.”
Lila’s eyes widened. “What for?”
“To pay the debt for your clothes.”
Her mood darkened. “I can pay my own debts,” she snapped, “and Kell knows it.”
Calla smiled. “That is what I told him. And he went away. But a week later, he came back, and made the same offer. He comes every week.”
“Bastard,” mumbled Lila, but the merchant shook her head.
“Don’t you see?” said Calla. “He wasn’t coming to pay your debt. He was coming to see if you’d returned to pay it yourself.”
Rhy & Alucard
Now here’s the unexpected. I never thought Alucard to be involved with the House of Mahesh let alone with Rhy. But when it happened it made sense why Kell was so against the guy in the first place. They weren’t given that much space to delve into their history but from the little of what in this book. They genuinely care about each other and I can’t wait to know more about them..
The Plot & End
As much as I
needed wanted Team Kell and Lila kicking as together like they did in ADSoM, they did it separately which was close enough. The real plot of this book happens at the very end of it. And it was such a great ending. I need the next book already ;___;
Previous series reviews:
- Book 1: A Darker Shade of Magic