A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. SchwabI 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!
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.
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