Title: A Gathering Of Shadows
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Published: February 23rd 2016
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 neighboring 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.
This review will contain mild spoilers regarding characters and plot which have been clearly indicated. The end of the paragraph indicates the end of the spoiler.
A Gathering Of Shadows is the second book in the Shades Of Magic trilogy, and like most middle books it failed to live up to its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing remotely bad about this book – I loved it, and the writing just got better and better – but I felt it lacked in terms of pacing. That is, it was far too slow.
ADSOM started off equally slow, but that was to allow for the world-building; AGOS couldn’t really get away with it. I was well over halfway through the book and still waiting for certain things to happen. Maybe I’m just really impatient!
Here’s what I did like. The characters, obviously. A lot of the time where nothing was happening apart from preparation for the Essen Tach (basically the Olympics, but magic) was devoted to character development, and not just Kell and Lila’s. I loved that we got to see and learn more about Rhy, and even SPOILER: the occasional chapter about Holland. I knew he was still alive, purely because dead people don’t often stay dead in a world full of magic.
V. E. Schwab seems to do this thing where she makes me fall in love with her characters as soon as I meet them. Because, Alucard Emery. I loved the comradery between the Night Spire crew, and the relationship dynamic between him and Lila. Not to mention, SPOILER: his relationship with Rhy and Kell’s protectiveness of his brother’s heart was everything.
The Essen Tach was pretty much just like the Olympics. There’s all this excitement and build up towards it, and then when it finally comes around everyone’s already lost interest. SPOILER: For the entire first half of the book I was anxiously waiting for Kell and Lila to reunite, but when the games began I completely changed my mind. I actually loved the anonymity, especially when they were finally competing against each other and only Lila knew who her opponent was. This scene and the ball scene. They are the actual definition of a slow burn. My heart was practically dancing with those two.
You know when you’re reaching the end of a book and you make the mistake of asking yourself, “How much can possibly happen in so little pages?” and then everything just escalates and you can’t keep up? That basically happened and it was so intense. I was not at all ready for that ending.
Since I read the e-book, I had no indication as to how many pages I had left so when I turned over and saw ‘Acknowledgements’ I had to do a double take. Sometimes it actually pays off to wait until a series is wrapped up before reading, because then you don’t have to wait a year for the next book. I recently bought A Conjuring Of Light even though I wasn’t planning to get it so soon. It’s like I knew exactly what was coming.
That being said, I’ll be reading a few other books beforehand because frankly I’m not quite ready for ‘how to break my heart in 666 pages’ and the sequel ‘what am I supposed to do with my life once this series is over.’