Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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-and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall.” (Summary found on Goodreads).
“Look, everyone talks about the unknown like it’s some big scary thing, but it’s the familiar that’s always bothered me. It’s heavy, builds up around you like rocks, until it’s walls and a ceiling and a cell.”
I’m insanely behind on reviews, so I do apologize for how late and/or spacey this review is. Although, I do have a legitimate excuse. Following Spring Break, I had a gigantic essay due and AP testing. Now that al that fun stuff is over, I’ve had an excess of free time, which means I can catch up on the seven reviews I need to do.
Anyway, onto A Gathering of Shadows. It had been awhile since I read A Darker Shade of Magic, and I was worried my memory would be impaired, but I actually picked everything up fairly quickly and wasn’t too lost, so this rating does not reflect a lack of memory. (But the review might.)
In reality, I was fairly disappointed with what came out of A Gathering of Shadows, but still loved it. The characters were as fresh and amazing as usual, and I especially loved seeing more into Rhys’s character, specifically his relationship with Alucard, which added so much more depth to him. I honestly hated Alucard in this book (wait for my review of A Conjuring of Light if you’re upset I hate him because I actually don’t anymore) because of what he did to Rhys. Though, I did like how much he cared (?) for Lila; their relationship was actually hilarious.
Speaking of Lila, in this book she was fantastic. I have seen reviews that criticized her character in this book specifically, but in my opinion, she grew more into her character. We saw facets of Lila that weren’t in A Darker Shade of Magic, especially with her past and all. As well, Kell grew more into his character too, and we saw how reckless the both of them are, but how determined to protect the other from being reckless—their hypocrisy really showed through.
I also loved the development of their relationship. It picked up right where it left off. I think it’s one of the most perfect slow burns I’ve ever read, and aspire to have that much of a beautiful romance in my books. Theirs is one of my favorite romances I’ve ever read.
Continuously, Schwab is by far the most talented writer I have ever read. Every word she writes paints an image in the reader’s head and her words are so beautiful, I spent multiple times just processing the writing and how much I loved it. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to get through it, I kept pausing to admire the writing…
Okay, onto the not-so-great parts. A Gathering of Shadows was a filler book. It became essentially what every other second book in a trilogy has been, a bridge between two plot-filled novels. It was more of a character study, with a plot-line not impacted by the book prior or the book succeeding it, and honestly, the plot-line was unnecessary. It served as a means for Kell and Lila to meet again, but didn’t further the main plot in any other way. The more pertinent plot points came in chapters told about Holland, which were a rather small part of the book (though I will say that I am 100% on board with loving Holland now; he’s definitely more of an antihero than a villain). This is my largest issue with the novel, because I can’t help but think that only the last third, possibly less, was actually important to A Conjuring of Light, especially knowing what happens in the third book now. Schwab would have been more successful consolidating it into a duology or having a more continuous plot-line through the series. While I loved the characters and their development through A Gathering of Shadows, I couldn’t give it the five stars I wanted to give it for this reason.
“’Fix your crown, my prince,’ he called back as he reached the door. ‘It’s crooked.’”