Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A Gathering of Shadows, VE Schwab

Pages: 508
Publisher: Titan
Release Date: 25th February 2016
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Near Witch, The Archived, The Unbound, Vicious, A Darker Shade of Magic

Kell is one the last magicians with the ability to travel between parallel universes, linked by the magical city of London. It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into his possession and he met Delilah Bard. Four months since the Dane twins of White London fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body back into Black London.

Now Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila. And as Red London prepares for the Element Games – an international competition of magic – a certain pirate ship draws closer. But another London is coming back to life. The balance of magic is perilous, and for one city to flourish, another must fall…

A Darker Shade of Magic was one of the most pleasant surprises from last year so I was really looking forward to A Gathering of Shadows, but I was a little disappointed.

My biggest complaint about this novel was the lack of Lila. She was hands down my favourite character in the first book and I was so looking forward to getting to know her better, but she just wasn’t in it enough. Most of the chapters were focused on Kell and that were kind of boring for most of the novel. I feel terrible saying that, but compared to Lila, Kell just wasn’t nearly as interesting in A Gathering of Shadows; Lila’s sass and high adventure just trumped Kell’s moodiness and angst over and over again.

After the events at the end of book one, Kell tied Prince Rhy’s life to his to save him and saved the kingdom, but the King and Queen no longer trust him so there’s a fair bit of whining from Kell until the tournament. The lack of action meant the book felt slow – which for a 500-page is tough to get through. I found myself skimming a lot whereas in book one I was savouring VE Schwab’s writing – maybe a case of second book syndrome? Or was it just me?

Thankfully, when we were with Lila, there was a lot of drama and adventure to be had! When we left Lila, she was leaving Red London in search of a pirate ship, but instead she Alucard and his crew, privateers to the crown. Though we didn’t get to know many of the other crew members, Alucard played a big part in the novel and I kinda fell in love with him a bit. He’s secret, often unreliable, a super-strong magician and a bit too charming or his own good. I loved the easy banter between him and Lila and the friction his presence caused when they were back in Red London for the tournament.

I was quite disappointed by A Gathering of Shadows and I had to force myself through it, but I love Lila and Alucard enough to come back for the final instalment. Plus, that cliffhanger was just mean.

Thanks to Titan for the review copy.


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