A Gathering of Shadows – V.E. Schwab

“Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.”

*warning* purely by talking about certain characters in book 2, this contains vague spoilers for book 1, the very excellent A Darker Shade of Magic, so go read that first!


Picking up some four months after the events of ADSoM, AGoS finds our heroes still dealing with the consequences. Both are restless, in their own ways: Lila has found her ship, sort of, but four months is a long time to be settled, for her; Kell is faring badly himself, out of favour with the King and Queen despite his sacrifices, and feeling no longer part of the family as much as a prized – and imprisoned – possession.

These internal tensions are mirrored in Red London as it prepares for the Essen Tasch, the Element Games: a dozen champions each from London and its two neighbouring states, come to compete in a battle of magics. But the civilised nature of the games is a thin veneer over political unease – and as if that wasn’t enough, magic seems to be stirring once more in other worlds…

It was hugely wonderful to get to slip back into the world(s) of Kell and Lila, and to see them both having grown from the events of the previous book, struggling with new – but entirely fitting to their characters – issues. The world of Red London, too, is allowed to grow, placing Kell as the world’s last antari – blood magician – on a yet more precarious footing.

Despite this, the story feels more intimate, in a way, as the characters deal with more internal issues. Each seems driven towards their own destruction, making me want to jump up and down and shake them both by their necks…

… which is almost exactly how I felt towards the author, too, when the book ended on such a cliffhanger! Argh!! But, oh, what a glorious ride ’til that point – and what an agonizing wait for the final installment next year! I’d still recommend you read this – the language is lovely, the imagery just wonderful – and then reread the whole lot next spring!

“We will die one day, you and I.”
“And that doesn’t frighten you?”
“Not nearly as much as the idea of wasting a perfectly good life in fear of it.”

Kindle: 513 pages / 10 subdivided chapters
First published: 2016
Series: Shades of Magic book 2
Read from 13th-23rd June 2016

My rating: 8/10 – it’s losing a mark for the cliffhanger! 😉

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