A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
Published by: Tor Books
Publication Date: February 23, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adult
Page Count: 512
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.
“Magic and magician must between them balance. Magic itself is chaos. The magician must be calm. The fractured self must be a pure vessel for power, spilling power without focus measure from every crack.”
I never thought I’d love this series this much when I first picked up A Darker Shade of Magic. But as I write this review, I know Shades of Magic will be one series I’ll cherish over others. The magic, the thrill, and the friendship will always bring me back. And I want more time to revel in Red London.
Victoria is an author to marvel at. She creates these complex and highly detailed magical worlds and systems. She unravels an intricate and layered story that makes you love storytelling all over again. And her characters stand on their own yet complement each other beautifully. I adore how each character has developed from the aftermath of the first book.
Kell must live with the actions of saving his brother, Rhy, and bringing a deadly magic to their world. Both the king and queen have lost their trust in Kell, and he feels that loss and resentment when they force more restrictions on him. Rhy and Kell’s bond though is what anchors the both of them, and I loved their interactions together. I also enjoyed how Kell’s entire perspective of his life changes. He struggles with his choices that bound his life with Rhy’s. And that internal battle builds depth to his character.
Lila, the stab-happy and would-be pirate, adapts well to Red London. She is one character who I loved reading in the ADSOM. And even though I want to rant about how her stubbornness gets in the way of growth, I can’t help but admire her badassery. Alucard Emery, the captain of Night Spire, just adds a little flare to everyone’s life. I thought I’d hate him, but he’s such an exciting addition.
The worldbuilding expands in this sequel. As the Essen Tacsh begins, magicians compete against each other. Over five days, thirty-six contenders must battle each other out until a competitor is crowned the winner. I absolutely loved seeing different magicians from other regions of Red London. You see how each country wields magic. But while people are enchanted by the Element Games, an old threat reappears.
What stands out the most is Victoria’s writing. She ensares your love of magic and shows you how beautiful yet dangerous it is. I was entranced the entire time, and I knew I need more from this world. Victoria doesn’t rely on romance to tell her story. She allows the magic to envelop her readers, and I’ll forever respect her series.