A Gathering of Shadows | Review

☾ about the book

Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Author: V. E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic
Published: 2019
Format: hardcover, novel, collector’s edition
Pages: 528
Rating: ★★★.5
Trigger Warnings: ind control, self-harm, sexual assault, incarceration, death, murder

☾ the synopsis

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.

☾ the characters

Kell is the first of two Antari. He is a member of the court of Red London, raised as a brother and protector to Prince Rhy, who likes to get into trouble.
Lila Bard, a con-artist and pick-pocket who joins captain Alucard Emery, who is a privateer and a noble, and the crew on his ship to try and get back to REd London to reunite with Kell
Holland, the second Antari and new King of White London.

☾ the magic system

The Antari can work magic using blood and a language called the Antari language.
Normal people can become magicians by wielding the elements.

☾ the world building

Red London is the London of good magic. It flourishes because it values magic and life the same.
White London is the London of strarvation, and its King and Queen harbor pain and suffering.
Grey London is the magic-less of the four Londons.
Black London is the London that was destroyed.

☾ what i liked about this book

The Essen Tasch scenes were great.
The “Fix your crown, my Prince. It’s crooked” scene had me shook. I love a good and naturally gay couple that doesn’t read like it’s a token relationship.
The character-dynamics in this book were great!
I thought this book was way more character-driven and included a lot more world-building.

☾ what i didn’t like about this book

It wasn’t very plot-driven.
The Essen Tasch scenes seemed very important when they were being led up to, but ended up falling extremely short, which I thought was very sad, because I very much enjoyed them.
Also, I still had my issues with Lila and her kind-of-toxic-seeming representation of the “I’m not like other girls” trope.

☾ should you read this book?

I think A Gathering of Shadows suffers from the Sequel Syndrome – it isn’t as good as the prequel and it is kind of obvious that it only serves as build-up for A Conjuring of Light, because it lacks the epic plot, that A Darker Shade of Magic had.
And yet, unless you’re that kind of person to have the guts to DNF a trilogy mid-way without ever finding out what the ending will be, you have to pick up A Gathering of Shadows – and if you do, you will definitely be rewarded with the great character dynamics it has to offer.

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