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Review: A Gathering of Shadows - V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #2
My rating: {★★★★☆}

Adult Fantasy
Published February 23rd 2016 by Titan Books

Source: Borrowed
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.

**Possible Minor Spoilers for Book #1**

When I read this book I took ZERO notes so this review has been so much more difficult to write! I was just far too involved in what was happening to my beloved characters to be thinking about popping out of that world to take a note or two!

I really enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic, and A Conjuring of Light was even better than it's predecessor.

Firstly, I should probably give a huge cliffhanger warning on this book - I'm so glad I wasn't reading this as it was published and then sitting waiting anxiously for the final book to come out! I have never been happier to be binge reading a series!

This one really knuckles down on the characters and is really more character driven than plot driven - not to say the plot isn't interesting! The plot is perfectly paced and exciting enough to keep you on your toes, but it doesn't overshadow the characters and their development.

Lila hasn't changed much - she's still a stubborn, reckless, badass with a whole lot of attitude - and I still love her.

I am Delilah Bard, she thought. Pirate, thief, magician.
Her fingertips began to thrum.
I have crossed worlds and taken ships. Fought queens and saved cities.
Her bones shuddered and her blood raced.
I am one of a kind.

Kell is being eaten up inside with guilt and is still incredibly loyal, brave and flawed and oh I loved him. The events from A Darker Shade of Magic have taken a toll and Schwab has done a great job of really exploring his character and breaking him down. I could feel his frustration and loneliness and I loved his character development.
I brought your son back from the dead!” shouted Kell, lunging to his feet. “I did it knowing it would bind our lives, knowing what it would mean for me, what I would become, knowing that the resurrection of his life would mean the end of mine, and I did it anyway, because he is my brother and your son and the future King of Ames.” Kell gasped for breath, tears streaming down his face. “What more could I possibly do?”
Rhy (the prince and Kell's foster(?) brother) really grew on me in this book too and I respected him a lot more. He's certainly grown a lot from being a somewhat annoying, overconfident playboy and I could understand more of the friendship between the brothers and their devotion to each other.

Because Rhy deserved that pain.
He could see his brother suffocating beneath the weight of it. Of him.
And he hated it.
And this gesture—this foolish, mad, dangerous gesture—was the best he could do.
The most he could do.
I also loved the addition of Alucard and his dashing privateer ways. The introduction of this 'new-but-pivotal' character in the second book was actually quite natural and he lent an added dimension to an already intriguing series.

Kell, meanwhile, appeared to be losing his mind. “No,” he muttered, running a hand through his copper hair. “No. No. There are dozens.”
“Kell?” she asked, moving to touch his arm.
He shook her off. “Dozens of ships, Lila! And you had to climb aboard his.”
“I’m sorry,” she shot back, bristling, “I was under the impression that I was free to do as I pleased.”
“To be fair,” added Alucard, “I think she was planning to steal it and slit my throat.”
“Then why didn’t you?” snarled Kell, spinning on her. “You’re always so eager to slash and stab, why couldn’t you have stabbed him?”
Alucard leaned in. “I think she’s growing fond of me.”
The romances in this series are just so damn SHIPPABLE! The feels!!!!!!! Kell and Lila are pretty adorable in all their denial and I loved the chemistry between them, even when they are apart.
There’s a word for that.”
“Hallucination?”
“Infatuation.”
Kell snorted. “I’m not infatuated,” he said. “I just …” He just wanted to see her. “Our paths crossed one time. Months ago. It happens.”
“Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Be quiet.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”

“Whatever he feels for me, it isn’t love.”
“Because it isn’t soft and sweet and doting?” Rhy rocked back, stretching against the pillar. “Do you know how many times he’s nearly beat me senseless out of love? How many times I’ve done the same? I’ve seen the way he looks at those he hates …”

Schwab's writing in A Darker Shade of Magic was simply superb and if anything it's only elevated in this one. The plot is tighter, the magic system cleaner and the world building was palpable.

This was everything I wanted from a sequel and more. Shades of Magic just goes from strength to strength!

A person chose their path. Or they made a new one.

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)