“Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don’t want to die – dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were actually doing before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”
Basically: Red London is hosting an international tournament, White London has a new ruler, Black London may be rising from the ashes, and Grey London native Lila Bard is slowly discovering her own magic powers in V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows.
Four months have passed since the events of A Darker Shade of Magic. Kell’s life is now linked to that of his foster-brother, the reckless Prince Rhy, and Lila Bard, newly introduced to the world of magic, is fulfilling her dreams of becoming a pirate. But while Red London prepares for the magical Element Games and Lila and Kell’s relationship evolves from “just friends”, something dangerous is stirring in White London…something that could spell Kell’s death.
Like the first book, the strongest part of A Gathering of Shadows is the cast of characters that you’ll wish were real. Our favorite is Lila Bard, a complicated knife-wielding badass, who learns that she has magical talents just in time for the Element Games, an international magic competition similar to the Triwizard Tournament. There’s also Kell, one of the few people alive who can travel through alternate worlds, and his scene-stealing foster-brother, Prince Rhy, who tries to juggle his future role as the king of Red London with his love of adventure. New characters include the dashing Alucard Emery, a pirate with a swoon-worthy side plot who could give Captain Jack Sparrow a run for his money, and Ojka, the servant of the new ruler of the bloodthirsty White London, who poses a danger to Kell’s safety. While reading the first book gives us a deeper appreciation of the characters’ arcs, Schwab does a fine job of introducing us back into her many Londons and reminding us of all the major plot points.
Told through multiple perspectives, Schwab’s sequel is well-paced; each section keeps us interested, and by the final line, we were sobbing with anticipation for the upcoming third installment, A Conjuring of Light.
In the end: Read it so that you can find out what it feels like to experience literally every emotion possible over the course of 500 pages.