Title: A Gathering Of Shadows
Author: V E Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #2
Publisher: Tor Books
Publishing Date: 26th February 2016
Whilst I do try to make sure my reviews don’t have any spoilers in them, this review does contain mentions of events in the first book, so if you haven’t read it I wouldn’t recommend reading this review.
A Gathering Of Shadows follows A Darker Shade Of Magic in Shades Of Magic series by V E Schwab. Whilst set in the same world, I found AGOS to be quite different in mood to it’s predecessor in that it’s much more jovial and out of the three books in the series, I’d say that it’s the most upbeat. Which is not to say, however, that there’s no anxiety filled moments, as I don’t think it would be as plot driven otherwise.
Just like the first book, AGOS has really good character development, particularly with Rhy, who I feel has now taken a more relevant role in the novel, which he didn’t have so much in ADSOM. Due to Kell linking their hearts to resurrect him (which happened at the end of the last book), Rhy now has to face the consequences which came with that choice, as he now cannot be as reckless as he once was. As a result, he’s had to mature a lot more, the evidence of which appearing quite early on in the novel.
Two characters which also have much more prevalent roles are the King and Queen of Arnes: Maxim and Emira Maresh. The dynamic these two royals have with Kell is now much changed, due to events in ADSOM, despite Kell being the one who brought Rhy back (but then again, Rhy probably wouldn’t have had to die in the first place if Kell hadn’t taken the part of Black London). I won’t spoil the ins and outs of the relationship between the three of them, that’s for you to discover when reading, but there has been a noticeable shift.
Relationships, in general, are a lot more commonplace in this novel, and I mean that in the romantic sense. You have past lovers coming into the scene, as well as the longing between Kell and Lila being explored a bit more (but don’t get your hopes up that much) and you never know, they might actually decide to admit their feelings out loud to one another, because let’s be honest, everyone can see it. There’s also the nuance of sexuality coming into play, which is pretty exciting as well.
Back to Lila and Kell, their lives are separate for most of the novel, as Lila does spend a fair portion of the book on a ship (, which you’re told in the first chapter so don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler). When reading AGOS initially I did miss their companionship, and it was even the reason I stopped reading the novel around two years ago, out of disinterest, which I just can’t fathom now. However, after the first five chapters or so I began to enjoy the company which each of them had around, with Lila’s crewmates on ship and Kell’s relationship with Rhy.
If you’re a fan of Kell and Lila’s easy banter, however, I can reassure you that they do meet up once again and stay that way (for now, at least) towards the end of the novel, as otherwise how would they ease their tension?
Like I said at the beginning of the review, A Gathering Of Shadows, for the most part, is a fun, enjoyable read. They’re preparing the Element Games under Rhy’s instruction and there’s a number of things that are planned which shouldn’t be (which of course I’m itching to hint at and spoil but won’t). Of course, everything doesn’t go swimmingly, but I mean, it was never going to so that’s not much of a surprise.
I must warn you that there are anxiety-filled moments in the novel, as though it’s set in Red London for the most part, we do have the occasional scene in the others where everything isn’t so much fun and games. There aren’t any particularly dreadful scenes throughout, as most of the anxiety you feel comes as a result of events which you can predict will happen. The foreshadowing is most likely to cause you the most stress but overall it’s pretty light, considering its predecessor.
Now, the ending, something which I always enjoy commenting on. The ending of AGOS isn’t my favourite, in that it’s not particularly light or happily ambiguous, but rather that you know that A Conjuring Of Light isn’t going to start full of sunshine and rainbows. It’s well-written and well-suited to the novel, that was going to be a definite considering that V E Schwab is the author, but you can tell it’s a novel which is meant to have another book in the series.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed A Gathering Of Shadows. V E Schwab is such a talented author and I can’t not sing her praises. I think I preferred it to A Darker Shade Of Magic, due to the lighter mood and some of the newer characters, and I think that the characters develop a lot more. And you can count on the fact that I’m going to be reading A Conjuring Of Light, the next and final book in the Shades Of Magic series, by the time that this review goes up.
Rating : 5/5