One sentence review: The triwizard tournament, now with 75% more Londons!
This is one of the more anticipated fantasy books of this year, as it is the sequel to the highly popular “Darker Shades of Magic” by V.E. Schwab. The first book of the series made my top reads of 2015, due mainly to the inventive “multiple London” world she created.
Pages: 512 Genre: Fantasy / Magic / Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 of 5 Red Star Coins
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.52 of 5 stars
Form Read: kindle ebook Purchased: Yes
Synopsis from Amazon: 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-and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall…in V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows.
This book takes place only a few months after the major changes that end the first book in the series. We get to see more of the world of Red London and also get to hear how the different regions of Red London interact with one another. This was my favorite part of “Darker Shade” and I was very glad she expanded so much on this point in this book.
We spend a lot more time with Lila, who is unfortunately one of my least favorite characters, but you do get a little more insight into how she became the way she is, which gives her a little more of a pass for her more annoying character traits.
The relationship between Kell and the royal family is also something that is explored more thoroughly, as is the perception of the people of living with someone who could be either viewed as gifted or cursed for having near unlimited magical ability. The different kinds of magical gifts and the frequency they occur is expanded on, which was anther of the more interesting points in this book.
The main focus in the synopsis is the magic tournament, and while this is a constant background event, it really isn’t fleshed out in the actual text. Other than a couple of key moments, you just hear the results of the main characters and don’t really see a detailed view of how different gifts are actually used in a combat situation.
Gathering Shadows definitely had middle book problems, as this is going to be a trilogy, and the cliffhanger at the end was a little infuriating but also expected. I was very excited that this book is more than 100 pages longer than the previous book, but was disappointed in how those pages were spent. I expect a lot of setup for the next book, and love the world building enough that I’ll still pick that one up the moment it is released.
Would I recommend: yes, but with the understanding it’s a middle book.