A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Book Two of the A Darker Shade of Magic series
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
There is no part of me that is even the slightest bit of okay right now. Victoria Schwab, I loathe you! I mean, I adore you, but I also hate you FOR THAT ENDING! This book was all sorts of brilliant, masterfully written, and painfully cruel. How in the world will I last until February 2017 (let us HOPE and PRAY that that is the latest book three will be published).
It has been four months since the ending of A Darker Shade of Magic. Lila is part of the crew of a pirate - privateer - ship, and she's slowly learning about her limits and abilities. Meanwhile, in Red London, Kell struggles with the bond with Rhy. He doesn't dare take chances, not with Rhy's life at stake. Rhy, on the other hand, overdoes everything. Rhy and Red London is preparing for the Element Games, in which Faro, Arnes, and Vesk competitors engage in a tournament meant to showcase the magical abilities of the countries in a friendly way. But another London is rising from the ashes, and no one will see the threat until it's too late.
I'll admit - I really struggled with the first half of this book. I think part of me just did NOT want to read it, because I was so excited to finally be reading it. If that makes sense. I got this book months ago and couldn't crack open the review copy until now! I was so excited to finally start it and... I just couldn't. BUT. I don't think it was the book's fault, although I DO think the second half is much more interesting than the first half.
We see a lot of Lila on the ship, in the first half. She's her usual thieving, troublesome self, running and running and running. Part of her wonders about Kell, but mostly she's content. She's learning about magic from the ship's Captain, Alucard Emery, who has just as many secrets as she does.
Meanwhile, Kell and Rhy are getting into trouble too (mostly Rhy). Schwab REALLY digs deep into Kell's character. Kell walks on eggshells when it comes to Rhy's safety. You can clearly see how much of a toll it's taking on Kell, how withdrawn and frustrated he's become. And Lila is never far from his thoughts...
The Element Games are a way of maintaining a show of peace between the the three neighboring countries of Arnes, Vesk, and Faro. Twelve magicians are entered, one of which is Captain Alucard Emery, which is how Lila ends up in London again.
This book takes a while to really get going, but looking back, I think the pacing of the story was good. There's no way I would have gotten such a good read and understanding of Lila's character, and Kell's character, had the author not spent so much time crafting them in their separate worlds for so long in the first half.
The second half is all about the Element Games. I will shut my mouth about the Element Games because there is so much craziness surrounding the Games! Let's just say that Lila plays a huge part in the Games, as does Kell, and Alucard. And none of them know each other in the Games (you where masks).
There is this subplot in the book that is threaded throughout the story. Its chapters are never more than three or four pages long, so you could ALMOST skip them if you wanted (you should not)... so the subplot seems insignificant but it EXPLODES at the ending of the book. Very well done by Schwab, how she set that up.
As always, Schwab does an amazing job with the world-building. I've not read a fiction book with a concept like this one! I mentioned that I liked how Schwab digs deep into Kell - and all of her characters. She also did an excellent job with the story's pacing and structure! Setting up the big showdown in book three was done very sneakily and precisely.
I love Kell! He's easily my favorite character of the book (Rhy is cool too... and Alucard... Lila grew on me). He's so troubled and lonely and frustrated, and he feels trapped in the palace, especially since the king, queen, and many of the Arnes people don't trust him anymore (despite him saving everyone's lives in A Darker Shade of Magic). Schwab fleshes out Kell even more than she did in book one, and I think I love him even more.
Lila grew on me in this book! I didn't quite like her in A Darker Shade of Magic (nor did I hate her!), but I really liked her in this book. I think I understand her better. Same with Rhy - I can't remember how I felt about him in book one, but I liked him a lot in this book. And our newest important character, Alucard Emery. He's an enigma! We still don't know enough about him BUT we learn some pretty important tidbits and I am intrigued! I like him so far.
In terms of the romance... well, the thing is, Kell and Lila aren't physically in the same space for the majority of this book. BUT, several solid things happen, in terms of the romance, and that's enough for me to be very satisfied with the romance. There is also a second (separate) ship in the book, and I can't wait to see where that one goes.
Honestly I can't wait to see where the entire book three goes. The ending of this book is SO PAINFUL. I was in shock for at least a minute - you'll expect what happens by the time you get to the climax, but you don't want it to happen. The "villainous" part of this book sneaks up on you, and it strikes like a cobra. Suffice it to say, book three could not come fast enough.
What I Did Not Like:
I'm taking off 0.5 star - and rounding down - because of the cruel cliffhanger ending! I hate cliffhangers and I especially hate it when they break my heart soooo, I knocked off a star (technically a half-star, but I'm rounding down too). Don't mind me.
Would I Recommend It:
I LOVED this book, people. Despite the slow first half, despite the cliffhanger ending, this sequel does not disappoint. Schwab's writing, world-building, plot structure, and character development have flourished from A Darker Shade of Magic, and I'd say this book is at least as good as its predecessor. I am excited (and terrified) to read book three!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. Cruel ending is cruel! I really did enjoy this book though. Unfortunately now I must wait in agony for the third book! It sucks when you're so invested in a story - but it's quite magical too! Too bad the wait seems to long, for a resolution. The shadows really gathered, in this book.
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Clearly the cliffhanger warning is one I needed because now I can prepare myself to be utterly destroyed with the ending of this one... *stocks on cookies and chocolate*ReplyDelete
You will be! Have that chocolate on hand, Pili...Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I know how you feel! They have done some pretty limited mailings and giveaways. However, just imagine the wait until book three... sometimes it's a good thing, not reading a book SUPER early.Delete
I hope you enjoy this book in its entirety! :)
I completely understanding about being so excited to read something that you don't want to crack it open. I have quite a few books on my shelf like that.ReplyDelete
Glad to hear you enjoyed this one, even though it ended on a cliffhanger.
Right?! It took me a bit longer than usual, but I ended up loving the book. ^_^ Thank you!Delete
I still need to read A Darker Shade of Magic! No worries, It's at the top of my TBR Pile Challenge list. Great review!ReplyDelete
You MUST! I hope you enjoy it, Lekeisha. Thank you!Delete
No I am NOT reading this review!! Ha ha. I really want to go into the book without too many expectations. I'll come back and read your review after I've read the book:-)ReplyDelete
HAHAHAHA! I <3 you, Tammy. Thank you for stopping by - I hope you LOVE this book!Delete
Hmm... I really liked the first book. It was honestly a surprise how much I ended up liking it because it didn't seem like it would be for me. I am excited for this one, but I'm wondering if I should wait for the last book to be out before I read it. Evil endings are not really my thing!ReplyDelete
I'm so happy to hear that you liked Lila better in this one! I really struggled with her in the first one. I can't wait to find out more about these Elemental games though. This should be real interesting.
Glad this was great for you, Alyssa! :)
I'm happy to hear that the first book surprised you! I didn't quite like Lila in ADSOM, but she really grew on me in AGOS. So that was a HUGE plus. :DDelete
Thank you, Nick!
I seriously CAN NOT wait to try this book out! I've been stalking the author on Twitter and she seems to have a large following right now! I'm not a huge fan of the cover over it but that doesn't seem to detract from the characters or the plot so *shrugs* that sounds LOVELY to me! <3ReplyDelete
Yaaay! She's quite popular! This is only my second book that I've read by her (whoops). I hope you enjoy this one, Keionda!Delete
AHH! Great review! And Kell is tha MAN! I can't wait to read more about his character. Also: thanks for the heads up on the cliffhanger ending! Hitting up Trader Joe's now for some peanut butter cups...ReplyDelete
Thank you! And indeed - I may have a bit of a crush on him! Definitely a good idea - stock up on ALL THE TREATS. :ODelete
I was waiting to see how the romance plays out in this series, so I think it's safe to say that I'll be binging it after the third book comes out (as long as the ships are safe!) I've never read a book by this author but I know a lot of people rave about them. I'm glad you enjoyed for the most part, though I know how you feel about an evil cliffhanger!ReplyDelete
I think the series is HIGHLY worth binge-reading, Danielle! Yes, this book had an awful cliffhanger, but it's such a good cliffhanger (if that makes sense). And as far as the romance goes, no love triangle! Two linear romances (yay)! So there's that. :DDelete
Thanks for this review. I have been wondering...ReplyDelete
I actually didn't LOVE A Darker Shade of Magic. I have read Schwab's Archived novels and really loved them. I just expected more from it after reading the summary - it seemed like it was going to be better than it actually was too me. It was slow at times as well.
I appreciate the warning about the slow beginning pace - that would have been a hold up for me, so I like knowing that before starting - and the cliffhanger ending, which I don't mind that much. I just wish Kell and Lila were together more - that was one of the disappointing aspects of the first book to me. Overall, I'm looking forward to reading this book after your super positive review.
I have that book (The Archived) but I haven't read it or its sequel! I was hoping for her to write the third book that she wanted to write, but no contract. :/Delete
This book starts out really slowly! I would power through it, if you read this book. I ALSO really wanted Kell and Lila to have more page-time together! But hopefully in book three...
Anyway. Thank you so much! <3
This is such an awesome review. It makes me want to hurry up and read this series! Maybe I'll add it to my series starter challenge! Thanks so much for sharing this!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Lisa! You should totally binge-read the series! <333Delete
Gah, so excited for this book!! Buuuuut noooo cruel ending. I'm already sad that we have to wait until next year for the next book even though I haven't read it yet, haha.ReplyDelete
Glad to see you loved this! Yes. more Kell love!
Great review, Alyssa!
IT SUCKS SO MUCH! In a way, I could see the cliffhanger coming but I REALLY didn't want it to make an appearance! But it's very well-written and makes a lot of sense. I need more!Delete
Thank you, Cyn!
Okay, I so totally browsed this review because I haven't read the first one! I'm glad you really liked the sequel though. I NEED to read these, and you know, the author in general.ReplyDelete
Very much liked the sequel! I recommend you binge-read this series, maybe once the third book draws nearer. ;)Delete
Omg yes you finished it! I'm so happy to see that you liked this!ReplyDelete
I am so excited! I liked Rhy and would love to see him come in more. Plus the element games sound interesting. I'll keep in mind that it's slow in the beginning. And yes character development! Maybe I'll actually grow to like Kell in this book. And yes I have heard that the ending is horrible.
Great review :)
I'm excited too! The beginning was slow for me, but the book really turned around. I wouldn't say the ending is HORRIBLE, but definitely cruel, if you see what I'm saying.Delete
Thank you, Fatima!
I am far too excited about this book and you have made it worse (in a good way)! Your powers of Not-Giving-Spoilers are superhuman.ReplyDelete
Yaaaay! I am very happy to hear that. And THANK YOU! Phew!Delete
Ohh you're killing me! On one hand, I'm so excited to read it, but I'm also DREADING this cliffhanger. Yay more Kell development. I loved him, so more of him is going to be soo good. And now I wait some more. Wonderful review, Alyssa!!ReplyDelete
The cliffhanger was so well-written but so so so cruel! In terms of the book in general - just when you think you couldn't love Kell any more. ;) Thank you, Rachel!Delete
I still haven't read book one so I skimmed your review a bit. Painful endings are killer, so I can see why you took .5 stars off. I do that occasionally. I'll have to give the first book a chance soon. Great review!ReplyDelete
Amber ❤ The Book Bratz
I think this would be a great series to binge-read, when the third book publishes! It's totally worth the wait and the read. Thank you, Amber!Delete
Eeee, I'm forever nervous about that ending, lol :D But oh, how I am thrilled that you loved this book. <3 Stunning review, as always, Alyssa :) You are the bestest. I cannot wait to read more about Kell. Sniffs. He is my favorite. LOVE that we get to know him better in this one :) YAY.ReplyDelete
I <3 Kell too! Poor guy... well, you'll see what I'm grieving over when you read the book. I hope you love this one, Carina! You will. ;)Delete
The lack of Holland mentions has me worried...ReplyDelete
Purposefully done. ;DDelete
Glad you enjoyed this too! I totally get what you mean about the not wanting to read b/c you're so excited to read it, haha. I kind of wished there was more of the Elemental Game!But oh my gosh, I loved the romance, even though it was pretty minimal.ReplyDelete
Gah, that ending, though. Great review, Alyssa!
Here's my review of it if you're interested!
I think the thing I want most (besides Kell to be okay) is MOAR ROMANCE. :D Thank you, Cyn!Delete