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

Just like its predecessor, A Gathering of Shadows is a book that will slowly, but surely, ruin you. It gets into your mind, your heart, and just makes you feel everything, up until the very end where it crushes you with no pity whatsoever, just making you begging for everything to stop (or just, to get the next book soon). But neither happens, and if you ask me, that’s why this book was such a great sequel.



β€œEveryone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don’t want to die – dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were actually doing before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”

Taking place a few time after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows takes us, once again, on Lila and Kell’s journey, on their own at first, and then when everything collides in a mess of feelings and craziness that will have you turn on the pages quickly and compulsively like a mad person. This book mostly takes place in Red London, this alternative London where magic is everywhere, on everyone and everything, and is what makes the world go round. While Lila is off with pirates, and getting to know more and more a shady yet VERY interesting character, Alucard, Kell and Rhy are at the heart of The Essen Tasch preparations, this tournament meant for wizards all around the world to meet, and fight. If that part of the plot isn’t too original (it kind of reminded me of a less deadly Hunger Games, to be honest), I felt like it was just a pretext to lead the story somewhere, to lead the characters someplace, make them meet again and play an interesting underlying role into both of their journey. Plus, that event took quite some time to happen, which made it even more anticipated, but also kind of over-rated.

Kell’s struggles (and eternal frown), and THE BEST bromance


β€œβ€œWhat brings you to my room?” he asked, relief bleeding into annoyance.

β€œAdventure. Intrigue. Brotherly concern. Or,” continued the prince lazily, β€œperhaps I’m just giving your mirror something to look at besides your constant pout.”
Kell frowned, and Rhy smiled. β€œAh, there it is! That famous scowl.”

All thorough the first half of the book, we are following each character dealing with the aftermath of The Black Night, deadly event happening in the first book, and all of its consequences within each characters’ minds, wants and needs. Really, A Gathering of Shadows was mainly character-driven because of that, and all of the events, and the plot even was just a pretext to make things move forward, slowly, very slowly but surely towards an ending that will have you screaming. But more on that later. The characters’ growth into that book is absolutely fantastic. If I had some trouble connecting with them in the first book, I could see that issue being resolved a bit thanks to the author’s want to show us deep into each characters’ mind. Kell, for instance, has always been such a tortured and complex character, but in that book, everything shows, and I could feel his struggles between wanting to LIVE, and wanting to protect his brother.
Talking about Kell’s brother… I was a bit sad that, in the first book, we didn’t get to see Rhy more, as he seemed like the most interesting character. AND I WAS RIGHT, and I am glad Rhy takes a much bigger place in that story, and is even the narrator a couple times. I loved his point of view, and most of it all, I loved the bromance between Rhy and Kell. Every single of their interactions just made me want to smile and scream HUG EACH OTHER.

Highly shippable relationship and Lila’s uniqueness


β€œOh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Be quiet.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”

If I had a hard time relating to the characters in the first book, I clearly rooted for them in that book, so, so badly. I loved the fact that, even apart, Kell kept thinking about Lila, and that we could still see a connection. Without that, Kell and Lila’s story could, in this book, easily have been two completely different stories. To be completely honest, I kept waiting for Kell and Lila moments to come, and I didn’t get those up until the second part of the book. But waiting was worth it. The complexity of their relationship, their feelings, EVERYTHING was just so, so good. I really want to point out something here, it is the fact that their relationship doesn’t overshadow the story, the plot, or each character as an individual in that story. This could often happen in books, whether it’s a contemporary or a fantasy. There, each character KEEPS and fights for their wants, needs and own personnality, and I think this is one of the strongest suit in that book, in that relationship, and what makes me ship those two together SO HARD.

β€œI know where you sleep, Bard.” She smirked. “Then you know I sleep with knives.”

I could talk about Lila for hours. Seriously. She had a hard time growing on me in the first book, but here, I found myself accustomed to her banter, her witty remarks and just, her whole personality, and I fell in love with her. She is a badass character, not even in the Katniss Everdeen clone sense, because she is quite UNIQUE, and I think this is what I loved the most. In the amount of strong characters we can get in books (or β€œpretended” strong), Lila completely stood out. Her development in that book is glorious, going from figuring out what she wants, to who she really is, and what she can do, not giving up, stubborn to almost craziness. I loved her to bits.


A Gathering of Shadows is a festival of emotions. From a slow beginning, always taking a bit of time to drag you it, it introduces you more deeply to each characters’ minds and motives, making you care for each of them deeply. I’m not going to extend my point to the ending, because I am still not over it and I probably won’t be until I get the next book. With A Gathering of Shadows, everything comes alive on the page, characters and magic between your fingers.

Final rating: Β 4 drops!

Did you read A Gathering of Shadows? WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?! Do you want to read it? Share your thoughts in comments!


V. E. Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows, Β Published by Tor Books, 23rd February 2016.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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.

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41 thoughts on “Review : A Gathering of Shadows, V. E. Schwab

      1. I hope so, too! I wouldn’t have purchased it if I thought it was bad…but sometimes the books people love are just too strange for me. The Throne of Glass series sounds like one of them. That’s why I have been hesitant about reading or buying those books. There is a buying three get one free deal on her books today only, and I passed because I have a feeling it will be too much fantasy for me. Like a Tolkien book. And that level of fantasy just goes over my head.
        So I’m crossing my fingers on Schwab’s book. ::crosses fingers::

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      2. Oh, I understand. I didn’t buy Throne of Glass, and I don’t think I will, because the hype kind of throws me off, plus, all the fantasy…well I’m not a huge fantasy reader so I am never sure what to get into. But that one was really good, and the world-building was fantastic, really. It’s fantasy, indeed, but it was so well-done I could easily picture everything, and live in that world. πŸ™‚ I hope you will enjoy! πŸ™‚

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      3. Yeah, I guess I would say I like fantasy, but not “high” fantasy like some books are described. I could never read Tolkien. I would be lost. But regular fantasy, I find that to be my favorite…or some good regular sci-fi. Once again, not super out there, but plausible with enough world-building.

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  1. I LOVED this book too. I really loved the games. The ending kind of annoyed me… I felt like the White London plotline sort of interrupted the narrative impetuous? I love how detailed the world is, and the characters interactions and the magic. πŸ˜“πŸ˜‚πŸ˜­πŸ˜“πŸ™πŸ˜πŸ˜β˜ΊπŸ˜‚πŸ˜“πŸ˜… basically describes my feelings for the whole book. Your review was great!❀❀

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  2. Great review Marie! πŸ˜€ I’m so happy to see you loved this book although yeah I know what you mean about the slow start. I think all of V.E. Schwab’s books have a slow start but it just gives the space for her to properly develop the world building and the characters. Plus I think after the way AGOS ended the third book is going to be non stop action! πŸ™‚
    I loved all the characters in this book, especially Rhy. There needs to be more of him in the third book, and of his relationship with Kell, and of Kell and Lila together. Honestly I have to many expectations for the third book but I do think it’ll live up to all of them. πŸ˜€

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    1. Thank you so, SO much Beth! πŸ™‚ You’re right, and even if it feels slow at first, I just love how much she develops the world and the characters, it’s impressive. It takes me time to get into it, but in the end, I am completely immersed in the world! πŸ™‚
      Oh yes, I hope to see more of Rhy in the next book (and with Alucard? Maybe? YES???!) and Kell and Lila obviously. I love them too much together! ❀ ❀ ❀

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      1. That’s all right Marie! πŸ˜€
        Yeah normally with books like this I have problems getting into the story if it doesn’t move quickly but with V.E. Schwab I don’t tend to notice that you know.
        Oh my god yes, I love Rhy and Alucard together, I would love to see more of the two of them. Same with Kell and Lila! ❀

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      2. I’m still wondering WHY I read that book now. I can’t stop thinking about the cliffhanger, maybe I should have waited until the last book is released… I NEED to know what happens next! (Also kind of mad, because found out today that Schwab is in Piccadilly’s Waterstone’s tonight…and I am NOT. Timing is bad.)

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      3. See part of my wishes I’d waited until the third book was released to read the second because of that cliffhanger, but then again I know I wouldn’t be able to wait that long to find out what happened in the second book either!
        Oh yeah, I heard about that as well, it was her first UK tour but I’m betting there’ll be another one soon, she was really popular at YALC and I imagine it would have been the same case at Waterstones Piccadilly today!

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  3. Awesome review, Marie! I’m really happy that you enjoyed this book. It’s probably one of my favorite sequels to date. I totally agree with you on Lila’s character. I didn’t think she stood out among other witty heroines, but she certainly shines in this book. Anyway, that cliffhanger though. I can’t wait for book three! πŸ˜€

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  4. I only read the first couple paragraphs of your review for fear that there might be spoilers relating to the first book in this series, which I have hesitated in reading. Now, I really want to read it! You make the world sound so intriguing and I want to see what all the hype is about!

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  5. I think the slowness and how separate the storylines were for the most part of the book is what kept me from really ever falling in love with this series. I still enjoy it a ton, but it’s funny. The people who loved the Shades of Magic series were usually a little disappointed with This Savage Song, while I was only mildly excited for Shades and ADORED This Savage Song hahaha it’s some weird role reversal. But in the end we all ship the same. Kell and Lila! YAY!

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  6. I am so happy you liked this one so much! πŸ™‚ I loved Victoria’s Vicious so it makes me glad to hear this is just as good. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❀

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