Last year, I innocently picked up a book which had a pretty cover, a London setting and magicians. I had no idea that I was about to read one of my favourite books of the year, and that would absolutely destroy me. That book was A Darker Shade of Magic. You may have heard of it.
Recently, I finally got myself a copy of the second book in the series, A Gathering of Shadows.
Is it possible to be destroyed even more after already being destroyed by a book?
Seriously, it was just incredible. So many books suffer from second-book syndrome, but this one definitely did not. It had me enchanted from page one, and I devoured it over a weekend.
Warning: If you haven’t read book one, and you plan to, go and read it before carrying on. I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Oh, you’re not planning on reading it? WHY NOT?
Extra Warning: Long review ahead
A Gathering of Shadows continues the story of Lilah and Kell. Lilah is now travelling the seas with a fabulous privateer, and Kell is being an adorable grumpy so-and-so. The Elemental Games are about to be held in London (think the Olympics, but magic), and tension is building. Oh, and White London makes an appearance every so often for creepy purposes.
During the first book, I fell in love with V. E. Schwab’s writing, and this time round I fell even further. Her writing is so beautiful and elegant. Every single word is there for a reason, and it all comes together to create a beautiful world which is so easy to imagine. Every time I read one of Schwab’s books, I wish that I could write like her because her writing has this quality of beauty about them.
“Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.”
Another thing I can’t get enough of are Lilah and Kell. They spend a lot of time apart in this book (which left me desperate for a reunion), but it did show off how fantastic each of them is in their own right. Let me explain why exactly I love them so much (and I apologise if this ends up with me writing paragraph upon paragraph about them).
First up, Lilah. I got so excited every time she turned up in the book (that may have partly been because of the whole pirates/privateers/sailing on the ocean thing). But a large part was because of how great a character she is. She’s so headstrong and determined to find her own way in the world, and even though she does pretty idiotic things, you can’t help but root for her in everything she does. She also has great relationships with various characters, and I was a fan of the friendship that emerged between her and a certain Captain Emery. (Of course, I also love her and Kell’s relationship).
Speaking of Kell, he has managed to make himself one of my absolute favourite characters. He’s so moody all the time, but then when he’s spending time with Rhy (or thinking about Lilah), you get a glimpse of happy Kell and he’s so lovely. I really liked seeing Kell from Rhy’s perspective in this book because it really did show a different side to him, and it just made me want to scoop him up and give him a hug because there were times when he really needed one.
And I’ll just do a quick shout out to Rhy, who made me laugh. A lot.
To be honest, a lot of characters made me laugh, and that was all down to the large amounts of sass. It was all done so well, and I was genuinely laughing/snorting to myself in my room.
This is already getting a little long and I’ve barely touched on plot or world-building, so I’ll try to keep this short.
So, the plot. Lots of magic, lots of action, lots of sass. That pretty much describes it. Also tension. And magical duels. And SO MUCH WAITING FOR LILAH AND KELL TO SPEAK.
(I genuinely feel that I need to warn you, it takes some time for them to meet up. But it’s definitely worth the wait).
And I have to mention the world-building. It’s so clever and cool, and I just love all the little details about the different Londons (although Red London is of course my favourite). Plus we get to find out more about outside Red London, like the other two empires who compete in the Elemental Games. That was very cool.
There was only one little thing I didn’t enjoy as much, and those were the White London chapters. They were definitely necessary for the plot, but I just wanted to be reading about Lilah and Kell, so it was a bit jarring sometimes when I was suddenly in White London for a few pages.
But hey, that was a very minor thing, and the ending more than made up for it (apart from that blasted cliffhanger).
Basically, what I’m saying is, A Gathering of Shadows is definitely worth the read, and it was so much fun returning to the world of the four Londons.