Book Review # 83: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E.Schwab

Tuesday, 15 November 2016
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Titan Books. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review!

Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: February 23rd 2016
Pages: 508
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like 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.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

In 2015, Victoria Schwab introduced the world to the first book in her new Shades of Magic series. Not only did 'A Darker Shade of Magic' entice thousands of readers internationally, but it also exposed those who dreamt of stranger worlds to a phenomenal new series that would leave a lasting impact on those who read it. Personally, I adored A Darker Shade of Magic, awarding it a full 5 stars on my classification scale. When A Gathering of Shadows was realised, I knew it was a novel that I had to get to right away. However, this was not to be! I didn't actually get round to reading it until recently, when not only did I know that the conclusion to this trilogy would be closer at hand, but also I didn't want to have to not be in this spectacular world. Schwab has crafted such a unique and magical setting along with phenomenal characters that leave such a lasting impact on her readers. It's definitely one of those worlds that you do not want to leave. I haven't felt this way about a book series since Harry Potter, so my full appreciation of Schwab's work knows no bounds.

In this next instalment, we revisit the various versions of London along with the mesmerising characters we were introduced to in the first book. Luckily for readers, not much time has passed between the events of the last book and Gathering, therefore the impact that has been made since the events of Darker Shade are very apparent to readers, and it doesn't feel like we've been far from home since. However, there is something new looming on the horizon, The Element Games, a magical tournament meant to entertain and keep healthy relationships with neighbouring countries. In doing so, an old friend returns to Red London. Although, that isn't all that returns as darkness from Black London begins to stir in White London...

Gathering allows Schwab to expand her description of the magic system in the world beyond what she introduced in Darker Shade. Through the Element Games, we were exposed to different varieties of magic and we were allowed to see the effects that overuse of that magic posed. Now as magic began to grow with Red London, we also get glimpses into the effects of dark magic now brewing within White London as we revisit an old friend and opponent... As for the characters, Kell is finally settling into life in a princely style after Lila's departure from the docks of Red London. Unfortunately for him, it's not quite all it lived up too, as he begins to realise the constraints of the monarchy as he battles with something that lives inside him that constantly needs letting out. As for Lila, she's been at sea for four months in search for adventure and now she's returned to the surprise of the Elemental Games, and with the development of her new found talents, she's set her eyes on a new adventurous prize.

Although, whilst we are reunited with our old favourites, Schwab treats us to the introduction of some new characters. One of these characters is the stunningly fabulous Alucard, who's past with Rhy lays bubbling away awaiting for the past to catch up with them. We also get the pleasure of meeting some of the magicians from far across the seas whom I will be excited to see if we meet again in the finale, A Conjuring of Light. Once again, Victoria Schwab has blown me away with the way she has crafted her magical tale. I award A Gathering of Shadows the full 5 out of 5 stars on my classification scale, and I eagerly await to see what sweet torture she brings for us in the conclusion to this trilogy, especially after how perilous she was in the cliffhanger at the end of this book! V, you have me enthralled!  

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