A Gathering of Shadows

A Gathering of Shadows

Title: A Gathering of Shadows

Author: V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic, #2

Publisher: Titan Books

Release Date: February 23rd 2016


Five Stars

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 neighbouring 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.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Just like that—only not just like that, of course, for there were many taut nights and fights won, first against and then beside the other men, and blood spilled and ships taken—Lila Bard became a member of the Night Spire’s crew.”

I loved A Darker Shade of Magic, even more reading it the second time around, but A Gathering of Shadows completely knocks it out the water. The wait for the second book in the series was worth it when I finally had it in my hands and started reading; I never wanted it to end.

Four months after stopping the destruction that nearly rained down on Red London Lila finally has her adventure. She’s sailing across the world with a crew of privateers who, after a slightly rocky start, she somewhat trusts. Four months and she is making her own way in the world, learning how to control her magic and mastering the language of Red London, however she has yet to return to Red London itself until the games are announced.

Meanwhile, back in Red London, Kell is dealing with the consequences of his actions. The soul-binding he did to bring Rhy back from the dead has connected their feelings and both of them have changed since that night, darker emotions welling up in both of them. Kell also struggles with facing the distrust the King and Queen level on him; he is tethered to Red London with guards dogging his every step, and when he does leave his city his clothes searched when he returns.

“To clever plans,” said Kell, toasting his brother. “And dashing princes.”
“To masked magicians,” said Rhy, swiping the wine.
“To mad ideas.”
“To the Essen Tasch.”
“Wouldn’t it be amazing,” murmured Rhy later, when the bottle was empty, “if we got away with it?”
“Who knows,” said Kell. “We just might.”

The Essen Tasch, the Element Games, have arrived in London and with them the contestants taking part; powerful mages from the different countries surrounding Red London, and with them is the ship Lila has been sailing on. After practising her fledging magic while at sea Lila is determined to take part in the games herself, and sets out to steal another competitors identity. Kell, on the other hand, has his own place in the games wanting to blow off some steam without worrying about the effects his actions and injuries will have on Rhy.

But while Red London revels in the games the other London’s are uneasy. Magic which was long gone seems to be slowly returning to Grey London, and the old King is dead leaving on the throne a new one whom Kell doesn’t trust. White London was in unrest after the death of the Dane siblings but now there is a new King on the throne and he is bringing magic back to White London, however it is at great cost to himself and to the other London’s who think they’re safe hiding behind their doors.

…The Characters

“Kell checked himself in his mirror, and stiffened.
Even with his fair skin and auburn hair, even with the black eye that shone like polished rock, Kell looked regal. He stared at his reflection for several long moments, mesmerized, before tearing his gaze away.
He looked like a prince.”

Kell has been changed by the shadow stone and what happened in White London four months ago. He fights and trains for hours each day, haunted by Holland’s last words to him. Kell is trying to make up for what he brought to Red London but the King and Queen no longer trust him, and with his life now tethered to Rhy’s Kell has to think carefully about his every move. He thinks about leaving, running away, but he won’t leave his brother behind.

“I am Delilah Bard, she thought. Pirate, thief, magician.
Her fingertips began to thrum.
I have crossed worlds and taken ships. Fought queens and saved cities.
Her bones shuddered and her blood raced.
I am one of a kind.”

Lila finally has everything she wanted. Her dream of escaping aboard a ship are now a reality, and she has power and safety to go with it, but there are times when she feels too comfortable aboard the Night Spire. She feels safe among the crew and that scares her; as a thief from Grey London she is used to relying on herself and trusting other people isn’t something that comes easily. Other than Kell and Rhy there is no one who knows about her past and she prefers it that way, keeping her secrets very close to her chest.

Since being told of her potential for magic Lila has been determined to master it, and as she learns more about her power she hungers for a chance to test her new abilities. When she hears about the Essen Tasch she is determined to take part and test her skills in the arena. Lila and Kell don’t reunite for a long time but we got to see the characters develop more in the others absence; Kell had the time to fully work through what happened in White London and deal with the last of trust he now faces from the King and Queen, while Lila was able to explore more of her magic abilities and find her feet in this new world. But despite the distance there is a bond between Kell and Lila, and even when they are miles apart their thoughts sometimes drift to one another.

“Rhy hated the way his living changed how Kell lived, the way his brother moved through life as if it were suddenly fragile. The black stone, and whatever lived inside it, and for a time in Kell, had changed his brother, woken something restless, something reckless. Rhy wanted to shout, to shake Kell and tell him not to shy away from danger on his account, but charge toward it, even if it meant getting hurt.
Because Rhy deserved that pain.
He could see his brother suffocating beneath the weight of it. Of him.
And he hated it.”

The relationship between Rhy and Kell is one of my favourite things about this series. It was developed a lot more in A Gathering of Shadows, exploring the growing bond between them. Kell has always been his brother’s protector, looking out for him even why Rhy isn’t aware of it, but now he can feel his brother’s pain and the darker emotions that plagued Rhy. Rhy has always wanted to be a good ruler, but without any magic of his own he feels like he is less in some ways, it’s why he accepted the necklace Holland gave him to make him more powerful. He wants the Essen Tasch to be memorable, to go without a hitch, to prove to the people he can be the King they need.

…The Setting

“The city sprawled around him, a version of London at once familiar and entirely other. The buildings were elegant, impossible structures, carved out of glassy stone, their shapes drifting toward the sky like smoke. They reflected what little light was left as the dusk thickened into twilight, but there was no other source of light. No lanterns on hooks or fires in hearths.”

We saw a lot more of Red London in this book which I loved, exploring the world where magic is so much more than in Grey London but also strong and alive unlike White London. With Kell confined to the city we saw through his eyes the Essen Tasch and all it brings with it, and with Lila travelling all over the seas aboard the Night Spire we see a lot more of the world surrounding Red London. However despite Kell not Travelling anymore we still see life in the other cities; White London through its new kings eyes, watching as the once dead city comes back to life, and glimpses of Grey London. We also see Black London for the first time; a city that was once thought long dead but which I hope may play a bigger part in the next book. Black London still remains a mystery and it’s one I’d like to see explored more in the next book.

So my thoughts upon finishing this book mainly consisted of me screaming in my head ‘cliffhanger?! NO!’ followed by a frantic search on Goodreads for the next book. I was kind of disappointed to see that there was no title, no cover, and no release date meaning I’m in for a long wait before I can find out what happens next to Kell, Lila, and Rhy.

What did you think of A Gathering of Magic? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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