A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Published: February 23, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Adult, Fiction
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London. Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as 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. And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.
It’s rare for me that even in a five-star book I don’t find anything wrong but Victoria honestly does no wrong. This book was infinitely better than the first and that one was a five star so I can’t even imagine what number three will be like. A Gathering of Shadows just got it right from the characters to the plot, to the writing style. I am still trying to wrap my head around the whole story because I just can’t handle how amazing it was. But, let me stop babbling and actually give a review. The story is taking place four months after the black stone fiasco. Kell is looked at as a traitor, feared, or hated by mostly everyone except his brother Rhy. Lila is now a dashing pirate and thief on The Night Spire ship with a captain who is too cunning for his own good. And Holland well Holland is a misunderstood soul who really just wants to be freaking free of evil shadow people and save his damn world. All the while in Red London a gathering of the world’s finest magicians across the three empires are gearing up for The Essen Tasch. The Essen Tasch is a magical competition that has magicians fighting using the different elements of earth, wind, fire, and water.
“Magic is all and none. It’s sight, and taste, and scent, and sound, and touch, and it’s also something else entirely. It is the power in all power, and at the same time, it is its own. And once you know how to sense its presence, you will never be without it.”
I really loved the growth, the stories, and the struggles of the four main characters Kell, Lila, Rhy, & Holland. In A Darker Shade of Magic, we only got to see Kell & Lila’s pov really so, I loved seeing the other two because it adds more to the plot and depth of the story. My favorite thing really though was their struggles. Now, of course, I hate it when my lovely babies suffer but without suffering there could be no compassion. And I have A LOT of compassion for them. They honestly each go through so much but Kell, Rhy, & Holland oh my gosh those poor boys. The internal suffering that Rhy & Kell face, due to the bond they now share, is a really big hurdle for them that you see throughout the book and it just breaks my heart. They don’t deserve all this sadness and pain they really don’t. And Holland? Holland just deserves freedom and to stop being bound by evil people just let him prosper and save White London. Lila is just a bad ass trying to figure out all this magic brewing inside her and not be held down by anything. And Alucard? Well, he just is dashing and pretty and you can’t tell him otherwise.
“Strength and weakness are tangled things, the Aven Essen has said. They look so much alike, we often confuse them, the way we confuse and power.”
This part is about to get wordy and long so buckle up because I need to talk about each of them since they are all so important.
“The abilities come naturally, replied Kell. The proficiency takes work. Just as explained during every one of your lessons. The prince shrugged. Who needs magic when you look this good”
Kell & Rhy have the greatest brother relationship I ever read in a story. The way they cared for one another went even deeper in this story than number one. Their banter, their shared pain & frustration, their love it just made my heart swell. They truly cared for one another even though they were not blood-related Rhy never treated Kell as anything else. They would do anything for one another.
“Kell had had enough. He was about to turn toward the table when Rhy held out a hand. The gesture was relaxed, the touch unconcerned. Don’t brother, he said, taking up the ales and heading for the other side of the room. One of the men was leaning back in his chair, two wooden legs off the floor, and Kell tipped the balance as he passed. He didn’t look back, but he relished the sound of the body crashing to the floor. Bad dog, whispered Rhy, but Kell could hear the smile in his voice.”
They really have a hard time dealing with the effects of the bond and they deal with it in completely different ways. Kell struggles daily with the need to be free and feeling like he is in a prison. When he was able to compete as a different person in the games his heart and blood sang for the need.
“You could be free, insisted the voice. But that was the thing. Kell would never be free. No matter how far he fled. He’d given up freedom with his life, when he handed it to Rhy.”
In the first book, you saw glimpses of Kell feeling like a trinket to his King & Queen and it’s even worse in this book. My heart truly feels for Kell and I wanted to punch King Maxim and Queen Emira about 50 thousand times every time they treated Kell like crap and refuse to forgive him but forgave Rhy and he was right that he shouldn’t have to choose between Rhy’s life & their forgiveness.
“I brought your son back from the dead! shouted Kell, lunging to his feet…Kell gasped for breath, tears streaming down his face. What more could I possibly do?…I can’t keep atoning, Kell whispered into the king’s shoulders. I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living…I am done making sacrifices. When this is over, and the lords and ladies and royals are all gone, I am leaving.”
We got to see such growth in Rhy as a prince. The way he handled his kingdom & the games were so beautiful I felt like a proud mother seeing him take his first steps. And Rhy was quite clever coming up with that plan for Kell. He also dealt with the implications of the bonding with Kell and how it affected his mind.
“Kell my greatest fear in life isn’t dying. It’s being the source of someone else’s suffering. I know you feel trapped. I know I’m your cage. And I can’t – His voice broke, and Kell could feel his brother’s pain, everything he tried to smother until dark and drown until morning. You will do this, said Rhy. For me. For both of us.”
Rhy hated what the bond was doing to his brother and he wished to take it away and it was so beautiful to get to see Rhy’s feelings and how his mind was working. We also were introduced to Alucard and might I just say he was such an incredible character. The relationship between them didn’t overpower the story or any other relationship for that matter. But I am wishing for a mini book on how they met because I want the full back story on how they met. But outside of Rhy Alucard was truly special. A great privateer, pirate, magician, and captain. He was witty and smooth and as Lila said he had a smile that could charm a snake.
“How do you know when the Sarows is coming? Is coming is coming is coming aboard?”
I am Delilah Bard the best thief aboard the Night Spire. Lila reminded me a lot of Inej from Six of Crows and that part where she calls herself Alucard’s wraith it felt like a beautiful nod to that book. I would love to see the Dreggs and this gang hang out honestly. Lila was so carefree and bad ass but I loved seeing her growth of caring for people. I hope in number three we get more backstory on her because she is so amazing and shouldn’t have to hide her feelings.
“Fondness is weakness, she said automatically.”
I hate a story that overpowers with romance and Kell and Lila was such a good build from the longing and missing they had made my heart swell and when they finally kissed I screamed. Needless to say, I loved them all and I want them all happy.
“You could just…he whispered, stay. Or you could go, she countered, with me.”
Lastly Holland. LET MY SON BE FREE VICTORIA. He was under another binding and it just wasn’t fair and Kell 100% agreed in the end. I just want Holland free, safe, and happy.
2) The Story & Writing
The writing style is descriptive and eloquent – you can picture the worlds easily and you can feel the magic running through it. I felt it as if I was there especially during the Essen Tasch with the magic coursing through me and pumping in my veins. Schwab creates scenes with such illustration and tension. The tournament brings all these characters together, to instill action and enthusiasm and at times you almost forget the greater threat looming in the dark. The ending leaves you craving for more especially that evil cliffhanger that does nothing good to my heart or mind. The storytelling is original and colorful mixed with rambunctious characters. The book sparks with magic and excitement on every page it’s hard to put down. Literally, nothing about this book was bad. I can’t complain about a single thing aside from wanting to actually know these people and save them from the turmoil and pain that Victoria seems to love to put them through.
Not much to say about him, because we didn’t see him much, but he is one of the greatest evil characters I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. He was evil yet exciting and I can’t wait to see what that wicked mind cooks up in book three especially heading into Red London.
I could go on and on and on about this book. I have too many feelings and not enough words to put down how fantastic this book was. I wish I could put every feeling into words but I can’t. The book was just beautifully written, the characters were precious, the writing was magical beyond compare. Every book she puts out is a gem and everyone needs to read this.