March Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

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A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)

By: V.E. Schwab ( @veschwab )

Release Date: February 23 2016

*Beware: Spoilers Ahead!*

Official Synopsis:

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-and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall.


My Synopsis:

Things are finally beginning to return to normal after the Black Night, that fateful night four months ago when the magic of Black London swept through the worlds.  That fateful night when Rhy was wounded.  That fateful night when Kell, with the help of Delilah Bard, managed to kill the Dane twins and send the shadow stone back into Black London. 

Although months have passed, the events of that night have left their mark.  Rhy keeps having nightmares of a knife plunging into his chest, and Kell spends all his time training or hiding, trying to keep out of the distrustful eyes of the king and queen.  On top of that, thoughts of Lila plague him day and night, and Kell can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever see her again.

But Lila has always been drawn to the action, and now the action is in Red London as the city prepares for the Essen Tasch, the elemental games where the world’s greatest magicians will compete.  As the games begin, friends and foes alike will cross paths, and sparks, both literal and figurative, will fly.

But while one London celebrates, another is being reborn and bringing the dead back with it.  Black London escaped once, and now it’s escaped again, determined to find another world of magic to conquer.  And only one London has the power it seeks…


My Thoughts:

I decided to do things a bit differently this month.  Usually my reviews are based on the notes I take as I’m reading, all my various thoughts and reactions to the text in real time.  Usually I take thoughts notes and put them into something coherent that almost always ends up being way longer than I intended.  This time, however, as I was looking back through my notes for A Gathering of Shadows, the second book in the fantastic Shades of Magic series, I realized that those initial reactions were way more exciting and did a much better job of describing the story than a more traditional review would.  So I decided why the heck not, and I opted for this month’s review to be easier to follow along with as you read the book or easier to relate to if you’ve already read it.  Either way, I hope it’s still worth reading. 

And now I invite you to relax, let me pull up a chair as I proudly present:

73 Thoughts I Had While Reading V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows:

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  • “Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.” Well, that’s a prefect description of Lila.
  • In case you’d forgotten how effing tough Lila was, here she is single-handedly taking over a pirate ship.

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  • I love how Kell and Lila keep popping up in each other’s thoughts, Lila as Kell is kissing another girl and Kell as Lila’s voice of reason.
  • “Kell wasn’t an ordinary magician.” And there’s Kell’s one line summary.
  • Yeesh, Kell doesn’t mess around in a fight anymore. Bone magic and contemplating killing Rhy’s attackers: my little Antari’s gotten vicious!
  • Of course Holland’s not dead. His return explains the reawakening of White London, though. And it explains the creepy new Antari under his command.

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  • The whole ‘I feel your pain, you feel mine’ can be rather inconvenient, but it seems like it has the potential to be really funny.
  • Ned’s back! Dude cracks me up, and now he can almost sort of do magic. Black London is seeping out everywhere, even into Grey London.
  • Lila drawn to taverns, specifically the Stone’s Throw and its Red London equivalent. She’s drawn to the magic, just like Kell. Seriously, more proof she’s Antari.

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  • I like Rhy’s POV. He’ll be such a good king one day. And this plan to sneak Kell into the competition is both sweet and appropriately inappropriate.

  • That coat is just fantastic. I want one. Top of my list of fictional objects I want to own.
  • Rhy and Kell are great together. Their interactions are probably the only good thing about Kell being confined to the palace.
  • I like that Lila uses poetry to focus her magic. Definitely not what I would’ve expected for such a rough and tumble girl.
  • What’s the deal with Alucard? I like him, but clearly Rhy and Kell have issues with the guy. What, is he like Rhy’s ex-boyfriend or something?

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  • Comparing Alucard and Kell as the former is trying to kiss you. Never claim you don’t have a bit of a thing for Kell, Lila dear.
  • Alucard’s a jerk. You should’ve stabbed him. But good for you for at least tossing the wine in the fire.
  • Not having Kell and Lila together for their adventures so far is definitely not making this any less exciting.
  • Yeesh, Alucard’s sharp. He figured out the fake eye.
  • Kell came to Calla’s shop every week looking for Lila? That boy is too precious.

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  • Holland seems to really want to help White London, but I wonder how much is his desire to do good and how much is the Black London dude’s desire to build up a world so that he can use it to jump to another London?
  • Lila and ‘Luc’ have a lot in common. If I knew more about Alucard and I didn’t like Kell so much, I’d be rooting for Lila and the captain.
  • Apparently, multitudes of magical power just make a person restless.
  • Lila feels the similarities between the Stone’s Throw and the Setting Sun- feeling the magic of the fixed point.
  • Elements jokes- probably the only thing that could make this book better.
  • So basically this Jin dude is an airbender. Also, his name is Jin, like djinn, and they probably floated everywhere, too.

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  • I like Hastra. He seems to truly like Kell, and I love that he put off taking a more powerful and revered position to be a guard. Interesting that he’s probably nearly as powerful as Kell, but it’s a much quieter power.

  • Yep, called the ex-boyfriend thing.
  • I don’t know, a frowning banner for Kamerov would’ve been pretty memorable.
  • “Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.” Well, both Kell and Lila crave adventure, so it seems like it would suit the two of them pretty well.
  • Tieren had better be really good at acting for all the feigning ignorance he’s probably going to have to do later.

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  • Let the bending tournament begin!
  • Kell’s gonna be really angry when he realizes Lila is posing as Stasion after all their interactions with one another. I hope he gets the chance to rub some ‘I was right’ in Rhy’s face.
  • I love that Rhy is a natural at languages. I hope his ability gets everyone out of a scrape later, one that magic can’t solve, and that it shows him how good of a king he can be even without magic.
  • Glad that Alucard’s still looking out for Lila despite thinking her ruse is a terrible idea.
  • Alucard is really good at magic. Aside from Kell, he was probably the best teacher Lila could’ve had.
  • Count on Lila to break the rules even when there aren’t really any to begin with but people are just too polite to push it. She’s there to fight, not to put on a show.
  • Ojka is a lot like Lila with her love of knives. More violent, though, surprisingly.
  • That collar’s gonna end up on Kell, most certainly.

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  • I’m totally stalling these last 100 or so pages, because I’ve heard about the awful cliffhanger ending, and if I stall just a little bit, then I won’t have to wait quite as long for Book 3…

  • So now Lila knows Kell is Kamerov. That ought to influence their future interactions.
  • Flashbacks to Lila’s magic lessons = fantastic.
  • Is Lila really slowing time, or is it just her finally connecting to her magic?
  • Now Kell and Rhy have Hastra lying to the king. I like this guard.
  • KELL VS LILA!!!
  • Now Kell knows, and he knows Lika knows, and this fight is either gonna be epic or a complete mess. Knowing those two, probably a bit of both.
  • Holy crap, is Lila more powerful than Kell? Or just way more reckless?
  • HAHAHAHA, Calla for the win with that innuendo! I ust choked on my water.
  • Just when you think it can’t get any worse, Holland manages to give orders between the Londons.

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  • Kell’s gonna flip when he sees Lila in a dress.

  • I wonder how many knives she managed to find spots for in said dress.
  • Lila’s jealous of the princess draping herself all over Kell- ha!
  • Awww, they missed each other, and they’re both willing to admit it. Look at my babies and their emotional growth.
  • THEY’RE KISSING!!
  • She kissed him first!
  • And now they’re bickering again. Back to normal.
  • Ned again!
  • Endless rounds of drinks for Kell: turnabout’s fair play, Rhy.
  • Rhy and Lila talks are sweet and informative. We need more.
  • So Kell and Rhy can communicate between worlds, too, just a little more painfully.
  • Why are the king and queen such jerks? How can they not see how much Kell cares for Rhy?
  • Yay, Alucard won!
  • And now I hate the royals in every London.
  • Rhy, not now! We were maybe, perhaps, probably not going to find out something about Kell’s past.
  • Oh, Lila. I love that you would legitimately kill for the people you care about without a second thought.
  • Well, crap. The king caused this. Kell’s gonna be captured, Rhy’s life will be in danger, Lila will have to save everyone, and it’s all the king’s fault. Down with the bloody red king!
  • This is not good. None of this good.
  • Lila’s White London token is ‘bit of Astrid Dane.’ How morbidly hardcore.
  • And that’s really the end. Gah, that cliffhanger’s as bad as they said, and I don’t care that this is the first of Schwab’s books to have a cliffhanger. Just get me the next book now, please.

Final Thoughts:

  • I hope it doesn’t take forever to rescue Kell. I want Book 3 to focus on stopping Osaron.

  • I guess we’ll find out real quick here if Lila’s really an Antari. But honestly, how can she not be?
  • I want to know more about Kell’s past, but it wouldn’t kill me if we don’t find out. There are many other things that I would like to know about first.
  • How long do I have to wait for Book 3?
  • How much longer after that do I have to wait for someone to design an infinity-sided coat?

Favorite Lines:

  • Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.
  • “Mysteries are always more exciting than truths.”
  • An ordinary magician would never risk the punishment.  Kell wasn’t an ordinary magician.
  • They held each other’s gazes.  Kell resisted the urge to stab a fork into his own leg just to watch his brother wince.
  • Lila shrugged.  “Everyone’s immortal until they’re not.”  Alucard shook his head.  “What a delightfully morbid outlook, Bard.”
  • “I do not know why you two are circling each other like stars.  It is not my cosmic dance.  But I do know that you come asking after one another, when only a few strides and a handful of stairs divide you.”  “It’s complicated,” said Lila.  “As esta narash,” she murmured to herself, and Lila now knew enough to know what she said.  All things are
  • But he’d missed her, and with the city so overrun, how was he supposed to find her again?  Just follow the knives, said a voice in his head.  And the bodies they’re lodged in.
  • “Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities.  The marks of every good courtship.”
  • It reminded her of the sea and the night sky.  It reminded her of sharp knives and stars and freedom.
  • “Please tell me this is easier to take off than it was to put on.”  Calla raised a brow.  “You do not think Master Kell knows how?”
  • Her skin hummed where he touched her.  Was that normal?  If magic coursed through everyone and everything, was this what it felt like when it found itself again?

If you haven’t already picked up A Gathering of Shadows or its predecessor, A Darker Shade of Magic, do it now.  Magic, parallel worlds, badass girls, and awesome fight scenes: what else could you want?  Check out these books today!


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