A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab


Kell is plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, he is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila. As Red London prepares for the Element Games – an extravagant international competition of magic – a certain pirate ship draws closer. But another London is coming back to life, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning. Black London has risen again – and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall. 


Genre: YA Fantasy

Page count: 513 (Kindle Edition, UK Paperback);

Year of publication: 2016

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.25/5)

“Everyone’s immortal until they’re not.”

Okay hear me out, I loved this book but it definitely had the middle book syndrome.

As always, Schwab’s books – even when they are in a series – have the same theme and characters, but they have different vibes. And this is something a love about her works.

It could be the same thing said three times, but each time there would be a change of the vibe, pace and action. It doesn’t even have to be another plot – just the same, told from the perspective of different characters. Everything would change drastically.

With A Gathering of Shadows, I didn’t feel like I was getting the same vibe I got with A Darker Shade of Magic, the first book. And that, in itself, was a good thing, but not always the best.

And I’ll tell you why: even though I enjoyed this second instalment, I felt like it was more made to be a bridge between book one and book three.

From the first book, the atmosphere was supposed to be dark, but in this one it just became darker and heavier. And I think it would’ve figured given the title. But even so, I was expecting a bit more to happen.

I was almost half done with the book and nothing was really moving. There were only pieces being settled on a big board without a real intention of starting a game.

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“I am grateful for the life you’ve bought me, though I hate the cost.”

The characters also seemed to have changed from one instalment to the next. Whereas I liked Lila in the first book, in this one she started being more and more stubborn.

She simply felt the need to be irrational and to always go looking for trouble hoping that she will find them. And she always did.

She never listened to anyone, she always did as she pleased and she was also being defensive about it. And to me, that became really tiring, especially because her ideas weren’t always the most brilliant of them all.

“Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”

Somehow, I managed to like the other characters more, which is good because they did the whole book more enjoyable.

Kell still remains one of my favourite characters, but in this one, Alucard is also someone to look forward to meeting. I found him a quite interesting character.

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There is honestly not much for me to say about this book.

I enjoyed it as it was and it actually started to put ideas into movement towards the end, but until then, everything looked like the draft of a mastermind plan, ready to unfurl.

“Who knows? Maybe the world’s gone crooked.”

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