It’s so exciting to sit down and finally write a book review. A few years ago, my friends and I had an amazing blog where we talked about our love for BBC Miniseries, tea, and classic novels (among other things). The experience of lovingly curating posts on some of our favorite things has stuck with me, and I’m excited to talk about my lifelong passion for books here with all of you!
A couple years ago I was browsing Amazon when I came across a book cover that I couldn’t resist. Admittedly, I’ve been known buy a novel based solely on its cover design- fellow booklovers, you know you’ve done this as well. That novel was V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. Getting to know Kell, Rhy, and Lila and accompanying them on adventures through alternate, magic-filled versions of London was a fantastic experience. I’ve had the second novel in the series, A Gathering of Shadows, sitting on my bookshelf for over a year now. I simply couldn’t bring myself to pick it up until the third and final book released. What can I say, I hate cliffhangers!
For those of you who are new to Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, I’ll give you a quick run-down. The books follow the adventures of Kell, an Antari (incredibly rare magician), his brother Rhy (a prince), and Delilah Bard (thief extraordinaire). The first book is great because it does spend quite a lot of time world-building: explaining how Antari magic works and the alternate versions of London, but it also gives the reader plenty of adventure and quite a bit of angst.
A Gathering of Shadows picks up about five months after the conclusion of A Darker Shade of Magic. Without delving too much into the plot, because spoilers, I’ll tell you that we’re reunited with Kell, Rhy, and Lila. We also meet mysterious ship Captain Alucard Emery. The Essen Tasch (Element Games) are taking place in Red London and the lives of our characters are about to change forever.
A Gathering of Shadows raises the stakes for our beloved characters. I love that the chapters are told from alternating points of view and that the book is divided into segments. These two things allow us time to connect with and learn more about our protagonists. Alucard, Kell, Lila, and Rhy are all fascinating, complex characters, and I love that they’re portrayed as actual human beings- neither completely good or bad.
The Essen Tasch is an interesting premise- think Triwizard Tournament but without the wands and a little more violence. It takes us beyond the magic of the Antari, which Schwab focused on in the first book, and builds our understanding of elemental magic. Lila played an interesting role in the Games, but I will say that she was the one character who sort of irked me in this book.
Really the only con I have with AGOS is Lila. When we meet Delilah Bard in Grey London, she is a thief, yes, but she also has a conscience. While we do get glimpses of that girl in this book, it seems more like she has lost any sense of what it right or wrong. The thirst for magic has taken over her life and causes her to make many questionable decisions. The Lila we met in A Darker Shade of Magic was not this selfish!
Overall, I highly recommend picking up A Gathering of Shadows. It’s a fantasy adventure of the best sort, and I can’t wait to see how the series ends!