Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows

Author: V.E. Schwab
Release: February 23rd 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
#2 in the Shades of Magic trilogy
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic (#1), A Conjuring of Light (#3)


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.


You know, this book was good. Really good, just what you'd expect from Schwab. And of course, since it's a sequel to a very beloved book, there's almost no way for her to go wrong. 

And yet.

This book stumbled along through its plot, aimless, with no destination it seemed, I was constantly left wondering what this book was even about, what the goal is, what the plot is, the story etc. Quick disclaimer here, I have never read the blurb. I just read it, two seconds ago, for the first time. So, bear with me here — from what was written in the book, I could not gather what the book was even about. Which is a problem. After about ~150 pages, I finally came to the conclusion that the main thing were the Essen Tasch, the Element Games. However, that felt a bit flat to me, because why should I read a book about some silly tournament, Hunger Games-esque? And it wasn't until about 350 pages in that the more sinister, actual plot even came into play. And that is a problem.

Don't get me wrong, I still absolutely loved the book. The writing is atmospheric and simply beautiful, the characters are well written, multifaceted and intriguing, all of them, and the setting is as vivid as it could possibly be. Everything about this book, and its predecessor, is exceptional. Nevertheless, not knowing where the plot would be headed at all is only four instead of five stars for me, because the whole time I was wondering why the hell this and that even mattered at all. Plus, the two main characters don't even really MEET up until 400 pages in. I'm not kidding. It takes four hundred pages for them to finally speak to each other. 

Anyway, it's a short review, but what else can I say? Despite these two "complaints," the novel was simply fantastic. Wonderful. And I still definitely recommend it, I just wanted to get this off of my chest. 

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