“A Gathering Of Shadows” by V.E. Schwab

Apologies for my recent absence from this blog. Things have been a bit complicated with my health, and I’m taking some time out of university to get better and learn to manage it. This has the added benefit of allowing me seven months of nearly-uninterrupted book reviewing, so you can expect more regular posts from now on (I hope).

a gathering of shadows

A Gathering Of Shadows is the much-anticipated sequel to A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E.Schwab. It came out last week – I actually managed to get a copy the day before publication because my local WHSmith’s was ahead of the game, but I didn’t get around to reviewing it until now. Don’t worry, this review will be spoiler-free to the best of my ability, so if you haven’t read it yet, I won’t ruin it for you.

I read ADSoM last summer, and reread it a couple of weeks ago to prepare for the release of AGoS. It introduces us to Kell, who can travel between worlds, and Lila, a thief who dreams of becoming a pirate. AGoS reacquaints us with these characters, but also introduces some new ones. It centres around a magic competition known as the Element Games, in which both Kell and Lila are competing, both under false identities.

On the whole, I thought this was a worthy sequel. A few things I particularly liked:

  • EXCELLENT SARTORIAL CHOICES. Lila’s fashion sense is impeccable as ever, and Kell’s multisided coat remains an object of my envy and desire.
  • YAY PIRATES. I just really like pirates. I’m a sucker for them. I won’t go into detail about Lila’s nautical activities, but suffice it to say that she’s a step closer to achieving her goal of piracy.
  • SUPREME GAYNESS. I’ve not kept it a secret that I can’t help shipping Kell and Rhy, even though they’re sort-of brothers. (They’re not related, but Kell was fostered by Rhy’s family or whatever, so it feels a bit weird anyway.) They just have such a wonderful dynamic. But, my shippiness aside, there is also actual gayness in this. Alas, it is too brief for my liking. Still. It is a thing.

I also liked that, while there were a few cute romancey parts, they didn’t overrun the rest of the story. I hate when perfectly good books decide to go all soppy, and I’m glad it kept the romance to a minimum so that I could focus on the story. That was fun.

Anything I didn’t like? Well, it ended on a pretty major cliffhanger, and now I am angry and sad and I want the next book immediately. VICTORIA SCHWAB, HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?

I can’t decide if I liked it more than book one, or less. On the one hand, it was a chance to see more of characters to whom I was already attached, and we also learned a lot more about the magical aspects of the worldbuilding, which is always exciting. However, I don’t know as I engaged emotionally quite as much as I did with ADSoM (maybe just because I’ve learned not to get too attached, or maybe because I’ve been too depressed to have lots of feelings lately).

It was definitely interesting, engaging and unpredictable, though, and it gets bonus points for being absolutely gorgeous in terms of cover and spine. Some people have said that they think the UK editions aren’t as nice as the US ones, but I actually prefer ours because they’re more colourful. I need to get a paperback of book one so that they match on my shelf (I only have it on Kindle at the moment).

I think I’m going to give it four stars: it didn’t quite earn that fifth star, but it was close to doing so.

I’ll leave you with a quote I like because it says a lot about Kell and how he behaves around the people he cares about:

“Kell has only two faces. The one he wears for the world at large, and the one he wears for those he loves.” He sipped his wine.
“For us.” Lila’s expression hardened. “Whatever he feels for me, it isn’t love.”
“Because it isn’t soft and sweet and doting?” Rhy rocked back, stretching against the pillar. “Do you know how many times he’s nearly beat me senseless out of love? How many times I’ve done the same? I’ve seen the way he looks at those he hates …” He shook his head. “There are very few things my brother cares about, and even fewer people.”

(You see what I mean? I try not to ship them, but it’s just so hard.)

Rating: ****

Find ‘A Gathering Of Shadows’ on Amazon (UK)

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