Friday, June 10, 2016

Review: A Gathering of Shadows

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Shades of Magic #2 
Published February 23rd 2016 by Tor

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift – back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as 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.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.
I have no idea why I didn't dive into A Gathering of Shadows as soon as it arrived in my mailbox.  If I remember correctly, I was in the middle of a book when it was delivered so I put in on my ''to-read-asap'' pile...but then tons of other books made it onto that pile and it got lost in the folds.  There's absolutely excuse though because I should have gotten to it much sooner than I did. Bad Micheline! Oh well, better late than never I suppose - it most certainly was worth the wait though. Holy magic coats!

A Gathering of Shadows picks up a few months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, which had introduced us to a spectacular world of parallel Londons, Magicians, dark magic and one truly remarkable coat.  This time around, while we deal with the aftermath of that explosive finale in ADSoM, we're also treated to Pirates, new characters, deception, tension and the Element Games or Essen Tasch, where participants battle against one another using their element of choice: air, earth, fire or water.  I've seen books claim to be inspired by Avatar: the Last Airbender and fall short, but Schwab succeeded in living up the the thrill of battling elements as only AtLA can. The Essen Tasch were absolutely stunning and I adored every moment leading up to the games, and obviously the event itself.

Beyond the excitement of battling with elemental magic, A Gathering of Shadows is above anything else, a character study.  We spend a lot of time really getting to know the minds of Kell, Rhy, Lila and newer characters like Alucard...and another one who shall remain nameless (spoilers)  I feel like I know all of them SO MUCH better now, than I did in ADSoM! Their inner thoughts, their motivations, their scars, their struggles and their relationships with one another...all of it!  Kell will always be my favorite but I love him even more now. His subtle, dry wit is on point, as usual.  And while I already loved Rhy and Lila, I feel like I appreciate them both on a whole other level. Rhy and Kell are a bit broken after what happened at the end of ADSoM, which was to be expected. Lila is even more of a badass than ever. No surprise there. Alucard was an excellent addition to the mix - especially the way he ties in with a certain other character: GIVE ME MORE - I ship it! Being the story is so character-driven though, I can see plot-driven readers having issues compared to the first book, which was a bit more intense and action-heavy.

There's intensity abound in AGoS as well though, but it's a different beast entirely. There's a steady build of dread, when a MAJOR twist is revealed early on and from that point on, when we get glimpses into that game-changing side of the story, the dread and fear just keep building and building. Tensions are high with the characters too, as they set themselves on a inevitable collision course with one another. When everyone crashes together, it is brilliant and beautiful and kind of messed up, but in the best.possible.way. Schwab blew us away with this world in A Darker Shade of Magic, but this time, she blows us away with her characters - and with the way she's setting things up for what will surely be an explosive, torturous finale in A Conjuring of Light. And let me tell you, that book can NOT get here fast enough!

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

26 comments:

  1. I see so many good reviews for these! I didn't know they had elemental magic though, that's a favorite of mine- especially if done right. I don't feel like I see it a lot? And deep characters- that'll make or break a fantasy. Sounds awesome!

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    1. Oh you really should read the series Greg^^ And I agree, I adore Elemental Magic, especially if it's handled properly! I agree, it isn't nearly common enough :) I hope you check these out soon!

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  2. I'm really glad you liked this, too! I've been thinking about it a lot since I read it (always a good thing). And yeah, I'm one of the plot-lovers, so I wished there was more moving forward - but I expect A Conjuring of Light will take care of that. :)

    I agree, Alucard was a great addition to the cast! I liked his scenes immensely. And I liked how Kell and Rhy struggled to find a balance with their newfound connection, that was pretty intense.

    Great review, as always! :)

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    1. Definitely always a good thing :) I agree, I think AGoS was a bridge book and ACoL will be INTENSE and explosive start to finish. Eeep!

      I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Alucard - often times when a character gets added in later it can be hit or miss, but he really worked great with the rest of the crew! Thank you Kaja^^ x

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  3. Yay, I'm glad you liked this one too! Like you, it took me awhile to get to after ADSOM although I have no real reason why. Definitely agree that we get to know the characters a bit more here and I'm also super excited for the next book :D

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    1. I am too Alise^^ I feel so much more invested and involved with these character than I already did - I have a feeling ACoL will be both amazing and brutal XD

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  4. I admit, I didn't love the first book, but I enjoyed this one so much more. I am with you completely on the characters, and I think that's why AGoS worked so much better for me! Kell especially became a lot more interesting, though Lila still bugged me a bit :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Oh now that you mention it, I remember that Mogsy^^ Well I'm happy this one won you over :D I actually enjoyed the focus on the characters as well, though I have a feeling ACoL will have a solid mix of action AND character growth :)

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  5. AHHH I LOVED THIS ONE SO MUCH I JUST CANNOT EVEN CONTAIN MY FANGIRLING FEELS. *shrieks* It didn't really have THAT much plot honestly, and like you said it was so character-focused...but afjdklasfdaj I loved this. I loved that we got to really know the characters. KELL MY DARLING CHILD. <3 I love him and Rhy so much and their banter is SO WONDERFUL and their protection of each other is afdjsaklfd the best. And Lila is endlessly awesome. Although I did find her a bit frustrating at times? Just with the constant "eh I don't care about Kell but I just think about him 97% of the time". BUT KELL WAS PRETTY BAD ABOUT THAT TOO SO YEAH.
    I just love this series.
    I BET IT'S GOING TO END TRAGICALLY. *gross sobbing in preparation*

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    1. I AGREE CAIT^^ *fangirls with Cait* I agree, the plot wasn't super packed but it surprised me by STILL keeping my attention AND bringing on the feels! I adore Kell and his bromance with Rhy made my life ♥ I was annoyed by Lila's insistence that she didn't care for Kell (while thinking about him ALL.THE.TIME.) but you're right, Kell was totally the same! I agree, the finale is going to ruin us D:

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  6. Awesome review. I loved the first book, and I’m going to read this one as soon as my book-buying ban is over. I’ve been ridiculously excited about it since before it came out.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Thank you AJ, I hope you love this one as much as the first one (and as much as I did) Happy reading!

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  7. I just finally read Schwab when I read This Savage Song. It was so amazing - now I realize what I've been missing!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. YAY! Happy to hear that you'll be reading all the backlisted Schwab - AND that you loved This Savage Song :D

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  8. I definitely need to get to this one soon. I don't know why I haven't already, I really enjoyed ADSoM! Kell is my favorite as well! And I'm a character-driven reader, so I'm even more excited for this!

    Ally @ The Scribbling Sprite

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    1. I was the exact same Ally, I loved ADSoM but I waited before jumping into this one :) Kell is the best ♥ Oh excellent, then you should really love AGoS then!!

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  9. I was so, so, so happy when I saw your GR status say you were reading this because I could finally gush about it with you, LOLOL! TOTALLY agree with you on this being one of the few books with elemental magic that can be mentioned in the same breath as AtLA. And I 100% ship THAT ship, too! There'd better be more in A Conjuring of Light, as well as some resolution to that ending of AGoS!

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    1. I know, I know, I waited WAY too long to get into this one LOL! Yup, Schwab NAILED the elemental magic and that's something I don't say lightly - the tournament totally reminded me of those elemental battles on LoK :D And THAT SHIP was brilliant ♥ I want more of it and EVERYTHING else given that cruel ending!

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  10. I'm so glad you loved it too!! I had a feeling you would :) I loved the elemental magic, especially the tournament. I can't wait for the other book either, if only the release date was closer!

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    1. Your feeling was right my friend :D I agree, the elemental magic and the tournament were amazing! I KNOW! The wait for the conclusion is going to be torture D:

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  11. Oooh I'm glad you liked this one too! Is it bad if I say I've never heard of it before? But it does look pretty good, and that cover! God I absolutely adore good covers, and this is one, lets be honest.

    Amy;
    Little Moon Elephant

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    1. Thanks Amy^^ Of course it's not bad, we can't here about ALL the books :) Though you really should check this one out, it's even better on the inside ;)

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  12. This is one of those series that I keep hearing wonderful things about but just never get around to reading them. It really does sound like a wonderful world and the magic sounds awesome. Hopefully one day. Great review!

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    1. I hope you will read it soon Teresa, I have a feeling you'd love it as much as I do! Thank you ♥

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  13. YAY! I'm been so interested in this story since A Darker Shade, but I haven't started it yet. So glad to know that it just continues in greatness! I don't mind character driven books so even if the action/plot is not in the forefront, I should enjoy getting to know the characters on a deeper level. Fantastic review!

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    1. Oh I hope you get a chance to get to this one soon my friend^^ It's awesome and if you enjoy character-driven stories, you'll love it just as much as I did I'm sure :D Thank you! xx

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