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.
A COMPULSIVE READ…BUT A SLOW START.
“Everyone 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
““What brings you to my room?” he asked, relief bleeding into annoyance.“Adventure. Intrigue. Brotherly concern. Or,” continued the prince lazily, “perhaps I’m just giving your mirror something to look at besides your constant pout.”
Kell frowned, and Rhy smiled. “Ah, 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
“Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“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.
“I 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 “pretended” 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: 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, Published by Tor Books, 23rd February 2016.
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.