A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab

(9.0/10)

Book of the Year 2016 (see all)

A Gathering of Shadows is the follow up to A Darker Shade of Magic and again follows Lila Bard and Kell on their continued journey into the limits of their magic and the boundaries they keep pushing against. There may be spoilers for A Darker Shade of Magic below.

I had a few problems with Kell in the previous novel, but I found him to be much more nuanced in this story. After the events at the end of  A Darker Shade of Magic, Kell linked his life to save his adoptive brother, Rhyl the Prince of Red London. Due to this Kell has felt himself become more of a prisoner of the King and Queen rather than part of the family. Kell is unable to tell if this is due to a lack of trust or if they are just being overprotective towards the heir to the throne. Rhyl as well seems much more tempered and grown up, realising that his duty is to his people and has started to appreciate the skills he has, rather than being bothered by his lack of magic.

Lila is still my standout character, finally living her dream of being at sea, even if it isn't exactly how she envisioned it. Working for the privateer Alucard, who keeps the seas safe for the Arnesian crown on the Night Spire. Both Alucard and Lila are keeping secrets from each other, but their banter makes for an entertaining read. The rest of the crew on the Night Spire give a different perspective on Lila, which is not always positive. Being at sea also allows us a wider view of the world and the different people who inhabit this Earth and how their relationships and belief in handling magic differs from what we know of Red London.

A Gathering of Shadows switches between different character viewpoints with Kell and Rhyl working on their issues and helping to organise the Essen Tasch or element games in London. The Essen Tasch is a contest of the best magical users amongst the three Empires. These magicians use their magic to break each other's armour to score points to win, each round becomes harder as the competition is whittled down. The Essen Tasch is also the event that brings Lila and Alucard back to Red London after their adventures at sea.

Lila has always been headstrong, but she really comes into her own within the setting of this novel. Aboard the Night Spire she continues her magical education with Alucard, always pushing herself further without worrying about the consequences. When she hears about the Essen Tasch she is immediately intrigued and willing to put herself in danger with another scheme to test herself. It is ingenious the lengths she will go to achieve her goals.

I don't want to say too much about the antagonist in this novel as it is a major spoiler, but as the characters believe the worst is over with now that the Dane twins have been destroyed, events are beginning to calm in Red London, this doesn't mean that the other London's are not moving on with their own plots and interests. Will Kell and Rhyl ever be safe and able to live without looking over their shoulders?

I enjoyed the way that V. E. Schwab writes the relationships in A Gathering of Shadows, how there is tension between characters when they are both near and far from each other. There is more backstory on Kell and Rhyl, before the events of the last book, and how their relationship has grown and changed by their own misfortune. Kell and Lila, both learn to work on their own again but also realise it is not always necessary to be alone. Allowing both Lila and Kell, to feel drawn to each other, even if they are constantly at odds. With Lila and Kell their friendship never becomes too overbearing to the rest of the story.

Although I wasn't a big fan of A Darker Shade of Magic, I found that I was unable to put down A Gathering of Shadows. The characters are a lot more engaging and the supporting characters feel more well rounded, with the inclusion of other empires the world is far larger and it was really interesting to get other points of view on magic in a world full of it. There are many plot points leading into the next novel, but the cliffhanger really does make you hope that the third book will be coming sooner rather than later as it leaves you wondering what will happen to each of the characters!

Review by

12+

All reviews for VE Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic series

A Darker Shade of Magic

by VE Schwab

Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers - magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. Ther [...]

Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Published: 0000

Score: 60

Our rating: 6.0 | positive reader reviews

12+

A Gathering of Shadows

by VE Schwab

Kell is plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, he is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila. As Red London prepar [...]

Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #2
Published: 2016

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

12+

A Conjuring of Light

by VE Schwab

The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empi [...]

Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #3
Published: 2017

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | positive reader reviews

12+

More VE Schwab reviews

This Savage Song

by VE Schwab

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city, a grisly metropolis where the violence has begun to create real and deadly monsters. All Kate wants is to be a [...]

Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Published: 2016

Score: 91

Our rating: 9.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

Our Dark Duet

by VE Schwab

Kate Harker is a girl who isn't afraid of the dark. She's a girl who hunts monsters. And she's good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No [...]

Series: Monsters of Verity #2
Published: 2017

Score: 85

Our rating: 8.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

12+

Vicious

by VE Schwab

Victor and Eli, due to a research project gone wrong, become ExtraOrdinaries (referred to as EO's from here on in) with supernatural powers. Ten years later Victor esca [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2013

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

12+

A Gathering of Shadows reader reviews

from United States

This book was so much slower than the first book. It was okay until the explicit gay sex scene 3/4 in. The author is a lesbian so I guess it's no surprise, though I was surprised, I didn't expect a X rated porn novel. Was it necessary to make Rhy and Alucard gay, no, was it necessary to make them explicit gay X rated lovers? No. Ruins the book and the series. But I read the gay sex is important for the third book based on the author being upset that in Russia they deleted the X rated sex scene, I won't ever know, I threw it and this book in the trash. The author could have been a better author but she put her twisted gay thoughts in where they don't belong. Like idiot authors that put swearing in their novels.

5/10 from 2 reviews

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