Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
“Magic and magician must between them balance. Magic itself is chaos. The magician must be calm. A fractured self is a poor vessel for power, spilling power without focus or measure from every crack.”
I think this is my favorite one from the series. I love the introduction of the new characters but other than that, this might seem repetitive because I basically have the same feelings after reading this as I did after reading A Darker Shade of Magic, so here we go.
Things I Liked:
Again the excellent balance in A Gathering of Shadows was two-fold. There was less inter-world travel, but the characters (new and old) were crafted so well and engaged with each other creating very believable relationships with emotions that transcended the pages. Balance of magic continued to be an important theme in the lives of our characters and each character confronted this dilemma in ways that reflected their personality.
Though there was less travel between Londons in this story, shifting between Red London and White London helped to create tension in this story, that I found lacking in the previous one. Some many say it was slow or too drawn out, but I found reading about each London slowly moving forward on a path of collision that only one of them knows about created an urgency that really came to a head in the last quarter of the book.
I loved the introduction to the new characters and how all of the relationships developed further. Kell and Rhy remained my favorites. I love them both so much and their relationship is WONDERFUL. They care about each other so damn much it made my heart sing with joy and them die at the challenges they face in this book. Alucard was a great addition, he acts similarly to book 1 Rhy, who has become more restless and volatile since bonding with Kell. I also like that he has a history with both Kell and Rhy; he isn’t just some rando newbie. And his history with Rhy and Kell makes him a great bridge for Lila now.
I had some book 1 questions answered and now I have MORE. Like, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO KELL AND RHY NOW THAT HOLLAND F@&KED THEM OVER? What is Lila going to do when she gets to White London
because lets be real we know she isn’t going to die as a cliffhanger that would have no impact whatsoever? What is up with Kell’s mysterious past? Why can’t he remember anything before age 5? Is Grey London/World getting magic because the stone was brought over and infected that one dude or is it a cyclical thing like new!King George said? Schwab does a really good job of making me want more and I needDEMAND answers.
Things I Didn’t Like:
Again Lila? I guess we’re destined to have a love-hate relationship. Opening the story I LOVED her. I was so happy we got to see her finding her way, exploring this new world and its magic. It was all the work I needed her to do so she wouldn’t come across as a know-it-all talking out of her ass. Then she had to enter the game and I had the exact same problems as I did in book 1. Lila was rushing into an unknown situation, that she was under qualified for, and had no care for how it impacted those around her – specifically people whose come to care about her. It was selfish and arrogant and made me roll my eyes. I understand she wants to find out what the hell is going on with her and she wants to discover her our magic but it’s hard for me to root for her when I’m so frustrated with her.
This isn’t really a con so much as an apathy point. I get that the set up for Kell x Lila is happening but I just do not care about the romance at all. I like their friendship and how it’s developing, but I don’t get anything romantic between them. Not even a little bit. And it’s not that the setup isn’t there because it is and I can see the moments where they’re supposed to connect and I’m supposed to swoon. But it just isn’t happening.
I liked the amount of action in the story, I just felt like it could have been more detailed or fluid or SOMETHING. I just didn’t connect to how the action was written. It felt very sequential to me, like she was outlining the basic steps in a fight, or we would come into the fight after it was already in one persons favor and they would win. I didn’t get a sense of tension or threat in any of the action scenes, except the cliffhanger at the end of the book.
This series is fantastic and I even got my dad to start it! The characters are so rich and the worlds are fascinating. I’m just completely captivated by this world that Schwab’s created.