A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #2) / ★★★★☆
One sentence summary: Kell is trapped, Lila is a pirate, and both take a chance at competing in Red London’s Element Games.
“But what stops one from committing sins, if they have nothing to fear?”
Kell shrugged. “I’ve seen people sin in the name of God, and in the name of magic. People misuse their higher powers, no matter what form they take.”
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Like the first book in this series, A Darker Shade of Magic, I had a lot of fun reading A Gathering of Shadows. These books are just genuinely fun to read. I’m not, like, having my soul ripped out (you know, in a good way) by the twists and turns, but I’m wholly invested and am enjoying the ride. This book did take longer for me to get into than the first book, however, and it was around page 200, once the plot began to really kick in, that I truly found myself eagerly anticipating what would happen next.
This book was the definition of a second book in a series- it built tension off of the events of the first book while saving much of the action for what I anticipate will happen in the third and final book of the series. It was an enjoyable “bridge” between books, though I do feel that it could have benefited from a bit more action. But while the plot of A Darker Shade of Magic had more action, this book was more character driven, which I loved.
Certain parts near the end of this book felt a bit rushed, perhaps because the beginning felt much slower. I did love how much of a tension-builder this book was – by the end, you just know something is going to explode, and it left off a GREAT cliffhanger that made me veeery sorry I didn’t have the third book yet. This book wasn’t perfect in terms of pacing and structure, but I still loved it, particularly for the character building. Some consequences of the events in this book are to be seen, and I have a lot of expectations for them in the 3rd and final book, A Conjuring of Light.
Like I said, I loved this book for the character building, and came away much more fond of the characters than I did after finishing the first book. For much of the book our two main characters, Kell and Lila, are apart, and I loved the tension and expectation that built in their absence from one another. I was surprised by how much I liked the blossoming romance- though it was one of the elements I did feel were slightly rushed, or perhaps overdramatized (but not terribly).
I also loved getting to know Prince Rhy better, and if I had one main source of stress in this book, it was him. He and Kell were two ticking bombs, and I liked how the tension within them and between them contributed to so much of the plot. I liked Rhy’s relative innocence and naiveté compared to Kell’s jaded and moody nature.
Then there’s Alucard Emery, Captain of the Night Spire, whose crew Lila joins across the seas. I really liked him and his smooth nature, though Kell’s distrust left me cautious for much of the book. He takes a good part of the spotlight in this book, and I didn’t mind at all.
Like I said in my review of A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab’s writing is solid in quality, but nothing mind blowing. My eyes do tend to glaze over descriptions at times and occasionally there are details or introspection I feel are unnecessarily long. But overall, it’s good writing and storytelling, and I enjoy her style.
Was I satisfied?
I really, really enjoyed this book and I loved the cliffhanger it left off on. The slower pace was a bit of a deterrent at first, but once I started to get an idea of where the plot was going I was all aboard. And about that cliffhanger- NEXT BOOK, PLEASE.