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Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

 ★★★★★/★★★★★
Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
PubDate: February 23, 2016
Page count: 512

Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don’t want to die-dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were doing  before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”

I don’t even know where to start! I’ve been trying to write a review since I finished the book and until now I’m still trying because there’s just too many things to say! Well, for starters, this book, without a doubt, was brilliant and amazing and… magical. And I loved it! I’ve been hooked the moment I read the first book of the Shades of Magic series, A Darker Shade of Magic (review here) and finishing A Gathering of Shadows just made me love it even more. Now I’m patiently waiting for the third book and I believe it’s going to be epic!

The second book picks up four months after Kell and Lila have dethroned the Dane twins of White London. Four months since Rhy almost died (well, he did but Kell brought him back to life), four months since Holland was thrown to the Black London together with the mysterious black stone and four months since Lila walked away from Kell. It’s been four months since the Black Night that changed a lot of things. Since then Kell had to stop smuggling things from different Londons and the King had made it clear that he wanted Rhy and Kell protected all the time. And being protected meant Kell can’t really go around freely doing things without the King knowing. Kell tried to understand but somehow he felt like a prisoner. Like he was trapped. It was bad enough that he felt responsible for what happened during the Black Night but it was worse when he felt like he lost the King and Queen’s trust. Now he was trying to be okay with all of it but it was consuming him. He needed a release, a way to feel alive again. And that was when Rhy thought of an idea; Kell participating in the upcoming Element Games, an international competition where magicians gather to compete. Kell reluctantly agreed because he knew it was bad for both of them but as the competition came close, he actually felt excited. Lila, on the other hand, has found her dream of being a pirate. Well, she didn’t really become a pirate but she’s found the ship of her liking. She initially planned to kill the captain of the Night Spire, Alucard Emery, but things started to change when she just suddenly grew fond of the captain and his crew. Meanwhile, in White London, a new King has claimed the throne and he wanted his London to flourish with magic again. But he can’t quite do that with someone inside him trying to control him.

Everything in this book was perfect! The plot, the characters, the magic, the world-building, the writing style, everything! I’m a big fan of fantasy novels so I’m really really glad I picked up this series. And I knew when I started reading the first book that I’d found my new favorite series.

I can give you a lot of reasons why I love this book and let me start with Kell. An Antari, a loyal brother, a good man, and everything a powerful magician can be! Saints, I adore him and don’t get me started with how good of a brother he was. But with his bond with Rhy, it somehow made him feel trapped inside his own body. He was extra careful because with Rhy’s life at stake, he couldn’t take any chances. He mostly stayed in the Basin, some sort of a practice room, where he found some release when he trained. Some days he still thought of Lila, wondering where she could be, if she was still thieving.

I know it’s mad, but for a second I though it was…
Saints, you’re seeing her in everyone and everything now, Kell? 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.

I can’t help but love Kell’s character because man, he was perfect! I mean, sure he had his dark side but his good side make up for that. He though of Rhy’s safety above all, he tried to do the best for his country, he stopped smuggling things from other London and he stayed in the palace even when it felt like a prison. He felt frustrated and lonely but the kingdom and Rhy’s safety were his priorities.

Lila, I loved since the first book. She was headstrong, smart and she always got what she wanted. Man, she was a badass! She was at the Night Spire the first part of the book, earning her place by robbing and killing Alucard’s best thief. When she found out that Alucard could use magic, she was determined to make him teach her. So then she became a part of Alucard’s crew–privateering and learning magic. We saw more of Lila in this book and I wasn’t surprised that she became more ambitious. She’s always been dreaming of big and impossible things but now she was flirting with death by joining the Element Games.

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.”

Rhy was still our adorable prince. We got to see a lot of him in the book and I loved seeing more of him! He still had his charms, always bickering with Kell and always winning his brother’s heart. But Rhy also struggled with his new magical bond with Kell. Sure, he was grateful to Kell but it was still a borrowed life. With the thought of burdening Kell or Kell always restraining himself to do things because he was thinking of him, it made Rhy felt bad. And though Kell didn’t say anything, Rhy could feel how hard it was for him.

Rhy knew Kell’s true hesitation, and it wasn’t getting caught, or starting trouble; it was the fear of causing him pain. Every day Kell moved like Rhy was made of glass, and it was driving them both mad. But once the tournament started, once he saw that Rhy was fine, that he could take it, survive it–hell, could survive anything, wasn’t that the point?–then maybe Kell would finally let go, stop holding his breath, stop trying to protect him, and just live.

The bond between Rhy and Kell had always been strong even before Kell shared his life with Rhy. They cared and loved each other so much they were willing to do anything, everything for each other and I think that’s what made me love them even more.

The prince took a step forward, and swayed, but Kell caught him and kept him upright. There you go again, murmured Rhy, leaning his head on Kell’s shoulder. You never let me fall.

And I have a new favorite! Alucard Emery, captain of the Night Spire, magician and a flirt. Well, he had a right to be one. I wasn’t sure about him at first but as the story went on I found him intriguing. He was mysterious, he can see magic (literally) and the twist in his part (why Kell loathed him) was oh my god! It was unpredictable and perfect. I mean, oh my god! I was swooning while reading that part (and I might’ve reread it a couple of times, or more!) and I can’t help but love Schwab even more!

“Fix your crown, my prince,” he called back as he reached the door. “It’s crooked.”

Okay, moving on… another thing I loved about Alucard (among other million things) was that he let Lila be a part of his crew and grew fond of her. I knew he saw something in Lila and somehow was intrigued because of her unique personality but nonetheless he welcomed her. And I admit that there were times I felt like there was something between him and Lila. But nah, Alucard already belonged to someone else. Lol.

Alucard sighed, and closed his eyes, tipping his head back against the plush chair. He had a nice face, soft and sharp at the same time. She had the strangest urge to reach out and trace the lines of it with her fingers, Lila really should have killed him, back when they first met. Back before she could know him. Back before she could like him so much.

 This book is really brilliant! With the characters, plot, world-building, writing style and its magic, it was perfect! And I know we didn’t see much of romance in the first book but I was happy there were some in this book. Because I’m a sucker for romance, didn’t I tell you? And Kell + Lila was asdfghjklskhffgh :”)

They danced in silence for several long moments, spinning together and apart, a slower version of their cadence in the ring. And then, out of nowhere, Lila asked, “Why?”
“Why what?”
“Why did you ask me to dance?”
He almost smiled. A ghost. A trick of the light.“So you couldn’t run away again before I said hello.
“Hello,” said Lila.
“Hello,” said Kell. “Where have you been?”
Lila smirked. “Why, did you miss me?”
Kell opened his mouth. Closed it. Opened it again before finally managing to answer, “Yes.”

So, I gave this book a perfect shining 5-star because I really loved it. And I know I’ll probably spoil you if I talk more so I’ll stop here. In a nutshell, you should read this book because it’s brilliant!

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

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