“Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.”
For today’s Fangirl Favorites Friday, I’m going to be doing the second installment in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, A Gathering of Shadows. If you thought A Darker Shade of Magic was awesome and intense and just all kinds of shocking, then just wait until your read the sequel. Because Oh. My. Goodness. I finished this book weeks ago and I’m still kind of processing it. Oh and can I just fangirl about how great that first sentence is? It sucks you into the story and just doesn’t let you go.
*THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK, BUT NOT THIS ONE.* From Goodreads: 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.
There is just so much amazingness in this novel and I don’t know how to function or where to start. But I guess we’ll go with the characters first. Lila is even more badass than ever, and now she’s a pirate. Talk about kickass. Her snark and determination are actually really endearing and inspiring. She’s also pansexual and genderfluid, types of diversity that seem to still be sorely missing, especially in the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre. Kell was now even more emotional because of his new connection with Rhy, and I thought the way Schwab developed their relationship was particularly interesting. It’s so much harder to talk things out with someone and remain consistently in each other’s good graces when you can feel exactly what the other is feeling. I felt even worse for Kell because rather than just feeling like he doesn’t belong, now he’s actively hated by the king and queen. I honestly just wanted to give him a huge hug. Also, can we just agree that Kell is the king of being snarky without even trying? Anyway, I also wanted to give a huge hug to Rhy, my bisexual angsty prince, but at the same time, I wanted to punch him a bit for being so reckless. I understand that he must feel extremely constrained what with how closely he’s now being watched, but still, he’s hurting both himself and Kell!!!! Last but not least, we have a new character: Alucard. His snark is enough to rival Lila’s, and that’s saying something. He was so fascinating to read about because he is elusive and mysterious and I enjoyed seeing his secrets revealed one by one.
This book would be fantastic even with just these characters. But being a V.E. Schwab, of course it has to have lush and rich worldbuilding and a plot that just never stops. I especially loved the descriptions of the Essen Tasch, including the magical tournaments described. The tournament itself was kind of like the Triwizard Tournament and a medieval joust combined, but even cooler. The plot was a little bit slower in the first part of the book, but there was enough going on with the characters that it didn’t drag. The second half definitely picked up and left me hanging right off the edge of a cliff. I need A Conjuring of Light immediately!
Anyway, I definitely recommend A Gathering of Shadows if you loved or even just liked A Darker Shade of Magic. I personally do not think it suffered from middle-book syndrome as so many sequels do, but instead built on and improved the story. I can’t wait for A Conjuring of Light!
*SPOILERS* Also, is it just me, or do you ship Rhy with Alucard a lot? I don’t know, we’ll see what happens in A Conjuring of Light but…*SPOILERS END*