A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows FinalFour 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.


Sorry, I just had to get the screaming out of my system before I could begin this review. From A Darker Shade of Magic, I already knew Victoria (V.E.) Schwab could craft an excellent hanging-on-the-edge-of-your-seat adventure story. I should have known that A Gathering of Shadows would be merciless on my soul, but of course I couldn’t help myself – I just had to go and read it, and now I have to wait a whole year plus for the next book. I think I may just go mad and succumb to the dark side before then. We’ll see…

But seriously?!?! How is this book so great and so evil at the same time?!??!

Things that were so so great:

  • Kell and Lila don’t meet until the latter third of the book, which means there is a ton of great romantic and dramatic tension broiling beneath the surface of everything for like 329 pages (not that I was counting or anything). The build-up was amazing, but their meeting was explosive (quite literally, as a matter of fact). I have to say I have rarely been so turned on by the climax of a book’s central love story, but Schwab drove me mad with longing as I waited for them to finally cross paths again. It was maddening, in the best possible way.
  • The Element Games. Oh my goodness, it was beyond fun to read about all these magicians battling it out in the arena to show off their magical prowess (and, really, they are such show-offs). I won’t get too into it, but these games were wonderful – I could have read another hundred pages on the games alone.
  • NEW CHARACTERS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH! Alucard Emery is the sexiest new character of them all, but I’d also love to see some more Jinnar and even some more Jasta… she only gets like a paragraph of description, but from Lila’s reaction to this fierce female captain I have a feeling (and my fingers are crossed) that we may meet her again in book 3. But really, Alucard… I am in love with Alucard (and I’m not the only one… hint hint).
  • Kell and Rhy are more riled up than ever… with quite interesting (sometimes disastrous, sometimes stupid, sometimes loving) results. I love this pairing, and I was glad to see them get a lot more page-time this book than in ADSOM.
  • Lila being… well, being Lila. Is it just me, or did she grow even more reckless and ruthless in this book? She grows on me more every page, and I was in awe of her exploits aboard The Spire, especially in the opening chapters. I’m always eager for more Lila.

Things that were absolutely evil (in the best possible way):

  • Kell and Lila DON’T MEET UNTIL 330 PAGES INTO THIS BOOK (in my bound manuscript version anyway). WHAAAA??!?! So evil. Every second they were apart was torment. Seriously, they are meant to be together. I want more Kell-Lila banter and fighting together (and with each other). I want more of this pairing and I’m so mad that I can’t have any more until book 3 now!
  • WHITE LONDON. I really can’t say anything more because I don’t want to be spoilery. But WHITE LONDON. And BLACK LONDON. And magic… I will give you one word, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it means… Osaron. Pure, pure evil. Bad things are afoot in A Gathering of Shadows…
  • THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING. URGHARRRRWHA?!?!?! <— This is exactly what I sounded like when I turned the final page of A Gathering of Shadows and realized that there were no more pages. I NEED to know what happens next. I just do. This is the most evil thing to have been done to the book world in who knows how long, and I just need Victoria Schwab to understand that she cannot get away with this! Except, actually… she can… I was just kidding V.E.… I will read your next book and the next one and the next one as fast as you can write them. Please never stop writing them.

One of the most magical things about this book is the fact that there is very little in the way of action for the first two-thirds. There are still twists and turns and developments, but it’s much more about character-development and introducing new characters and slowing teasing the reader into a frenzy than about boom-boom-boom action like ADSOM was. I imagine this is because of that horrible terrible EVIL (but actually amazing) cliffhanger ending, which will lead into what is sure to be an ACTION-PACKED book three. But I just have to give Schwab mad props because only a master storyteller could get you to forget about the action and just crave more words, more character-growth, and more crumb-sized clues that slowly build up into something momentous and riotous and irresistible.

This book is a work of genius. I couldn’t put it down, and now I’m just going to crawl under my blankets and rock back and forth gently to calm my nerves. Otherwise I probably won’t stop shaking until I have book three in my hands.

Review: 5/5 stars

Did you read A Gathering of Shadows? Did it rip your heart out? Did you like it better than ADSOM?? Are you as in love with Rhy and his beau as I am????

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