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—meaning that another London must fall.
A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab. I have not written a review for the first book (A Darker Shade of Magic), so I can’t really refer you to an older post to check it out. However, I do not recommend you read this review if you haven’t read the first book yet.
I am one of the very few people who didn’t love ADSOM. I know, shocking! I just didn’t find it as engaging as many others did, but I am happy to say that I enjoyed AGOS more! I still don’t think I will ever love this series as much as some other fans, but I definitely felt more involved this time around.
Lila is a really badass girl and her POV definitely proved that, but I enjoyed Kell and Rhy’s perspectives more (as well as the one of a certain new King in White London). The new bond, that goes far beyond the brotherly one they had before is just so complicated and I love it. Neither of their lives is truly their own anymore and it is heartbreaking to see the consequences of that. It’s the push and pull of what it means to be family, but also to have the responsibility of a whole kingdom – I just loved it! Throwing charismatic Alucard in the mix was the final blow to my feels! Everyone grew so much on me during the course of these 500 pages.
I still don’t know why it didn’t exactly click with me 100% though. I am going to try and put it in words, but bear with me in hopes that I don’t just ramble on. While Schwab‘s world-building is super intriguing, I can’t help but feel like everything is really slow and not a lot is happening, at least in the first half of the book. If you think about it, the story technically covers 4 months, but it takes forever until the paths of our main characters intertwine again. It could be that I am just an incredibly impatient person and that whenever I want something to happen, I want it to happen NOW, which of course doesn’t always make for a good story.
Also, the Essen Tasch – The Element Games – were made out to be such an important part of the story for example and they truly were exhilarating once they happened, but they didn’t even occupy a third of the book. Maybe the way they played out was exactly what made this book different from others, but I couldn’t help but feel like we were shown more of the characters reminiscing about events from the past than really living in the now and dealing with what’s happening. Especially a healthy balance with the aftermath of Black London wasn’t really existing.
Now, ADSOM didn’t answer all the questions back in the day, but it sort of ended on a note where you could live with not having the next book right away. It didn’t have a happily ever after ending, but it had a conclusion just as messy as life itself. AGOS is a whole other thing though! The entire story for the next book was set up before your eyes and then you were just left with torturous feeling of not-knowing. It’s terrible! I wanted to throw the book against a wall!
I realise that I’ve sounded less than happy in some parts of this review, but don’t be fooled, I really enjoyed reading AGOS! The character development was what made up for the shortcomings in other departments. We now have a deeper understanding of our heroes and villains and I am sure that we will profit from that once we get to the final installment!
Fazit: 4/5 stars! I need to have the next book – NOW!
Have you read this series? Are you interested in checking it out? Who do you like best in the books?