Monday, December 19, 2016

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)
A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab. Tor Books, 2016. Hardcover. 509 pages.

Note: A Gathering of Shadows is book two in V. E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series, so if you have  not read the first book and would like to see a review for that, you can find it here.

While  A Darker Shade of Magic (the first book in this trilogy) was great, I definitely think I enjoyed A Gathering of Shadows quite a bit more. It felt even more engaging and the characters felt so much more cemented in their personalities and confident.

A Gathering of Shadows picks up soon after the first book with both Kell and Lila spending their time in Red London. Kell continues to stay with and protect Rhy, whereas Lila has found her place as a crew member of a ship. From page one, I was once again enraptured in Schwab's magical world of multiple Londons.

There is something magical about Schwab's writing. While is it full of complex world-building, political issues, and various character dynamics, it is also incredibly readable. Personally, I can easily become bogged down by excessive detail regarding complex worlds and magic systems, but I can honestly say that I never had that issue while reading this book. I was always immensely interested in whatever was occurring, and I have also developed a particular fondness for the magic system Schwab has created. I think the idea of the three elements being the main conductors of magic is brilliant, as well as how each person is able to use it.

Regarding the Essen Tach competition:  I actually inwardly groaned slightly when I first got to discussion of it because of how many fantasy books have been published recently that seem to feature some sort of magical competition. (Is it just me noticing this? I love competitions, so it's not that I'm complaining, but it really does seem to be a theme lately.) I am happy to say, however, that Schwab incorporated this idea wonderfully well, and it definitely felt like a more unique experience. And the fight scenes from the tournament? I never got bored reading them, and I almost always get bored in battle-type scenes! That's basically the biggest compliment I could ever give an author. 

I won't lie, I wasn't a huge fan of Lila in the first book (I know, I'm sorry, please forgive me), but I really grew to love her in this book. I was somehow annoyed with her (??) in A Darker Shade of Magic, but I really felt like I started to understand her, her motivations, and her overall demeanor more in A Gathering of Shadows. Lila is incredibly strong-willed and she is not afraid of crossing any lines to do what is necessary, which is definitely something we get to witness in this book. Despite what she may do, however, I find it impossible not to respect her for her sheer confidence and risk-taking attitude.

I loved Kell just as much as I did in the first book, even though that stick he keeps up his ass tends to make him come across as a bit nagging and annoying at times. But, frankly, I would probably be the exact same way that he is regarding safety and danger and the like, so what can I say? Kell is fiercely loyal, and I thnk that's what makes him such an endearing character. He will never give up or turn his back on those he cares for, and he is also extremely responsible with his strong powers, which I find admirable. Though, I do think we may be getting to see some different sides of Kell in this book and possible the next one.

Rhy also seemed to really develop in his character in this book, and I really enjoyed it. He struggles with becoming a strong, powerful king one day, and the inner conflict he faces between his own emotions and his obligations were truly developed well by Schwab.

Lastly, one of my favorite more prominent characters featured in this book was Alucard. I loved his character so much; he's witty, strong - but not too strong - sharp, and exceedingly amusing. I loved his dynamic with Lila, and I am also a huge fan of whatever drama there is between him and Rhy. Every interaction between Rhy and Alucard was exciting, and it created an interesting dynamic considering how much Kell hates Alucard. 

Overall, I am giving A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab! This is a fantastic fantasy series, and I recommend it to all.

You might also like:
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Kings or Pawns by J. J. Sherwood


  1. I'm so glad to hear that Lila grew on you in this book. This is still on my TBR list, but I loved her in the first book and was hoping she'd play a big role in this one. Great review!

  2. I can easily get bogged down by excessive details, ESPECIALLY in fantasy. But with these books, I also didn't have that problem! Like you said, they're so readable. And the world itself is incredibly fascinating. I feel like Lila is a lot harder to warm up to, out of all the characters. But I absolutely loved her in AGOS, and I can't wait to see more from her, and the others in ACOL. My favorite part of this book was definitely the characters! Love them all so much.

    Lovely review! Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

    -Holly @ The Fox's Hideaway

  3. I've never read a Victoria Schwab book before, but I know I really need to XD I don't think I've seen any negative reviews for this series, so I hope to read it this year. So glad you loved this book! :D

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles