“Everyone’s immortal until they’re not.”
Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Author: V.E. Schwab
Why you should read this book: Because you know you love this series and you can’t live without it.
I will try to summarize the plot of the book as much as I can. It’s been four months since the events of the first book, since Kell and Lila killed the Dane twins in White London and sent a dying Holland to Black London with the shadow stone. Now things are almost back to normal, at least in Red London. The Element Games are being held, royals and magicians from the neighbouring empires are coming to see and participate in it. While Red London is busy celebrating and throwing parties as usual, other Londons in other worlds are experiencing changes and things that had to stayed dead are rising again. What will happen when a dead London returns to life, another London has to died in its place to restore balance?
“What brings you to my room?” he asked, relief bleeding into annoyance.
“Adventure. Intrigue. Brotherly concern. Or,” continued the prince lazily, “perhaps I’m just giving your mirror something to look at besides your constant pout.”
Kell frowned, and Rhy smiled. “Ah, there it is! That famous scowl.”
And now what??? I am angry, sad, curious, I need more.
There are only spoilers if you haven’t read the the first book of the series, A Darker Shade of Magic.
First of all, I loved this book, it gave me everything I needed, to feel and to experience. There were a couple of things I didn’t enjoy but it wasn’t because of the quality of the book, which is perfection, but because of my aversion for certain kind of behaviors. I will explain later.
The book starts with Lila looking for trouble, as usual, when she finds her way onto a beautiful ship, the Night Spire. Odds aren’t in her favor but she is a lucky girl and the Captain takes her in with his crew. Oh the Captain, Alucard Emery, is one sweet cupcake, the perfect new character everyone dreams of. You know there are secrets surrounding him when you see both Rhy and Kell making weird faces reading that Alucard is going to participate in the Element Games, the Essen Tasch. This magic tournament is one of a kind with floating platforms, magicians from different and faraway empires and masks! How great is that every participant can wear a mask and have to wear a magic armour? It’s so magical and I’m loving it.
“What are you supposed to be?” she asked in Arnesian. “A fish?”
Alucard made a noise of mock affront. “Obviously,” he said, brandishing the helmet, “I’m a dragon.”
“Wouldn’t it make more sense for you to be a fish?” challenged Lila. “After all, you do live on the sea, and you are rather slippery, and—”
“I’m a dragon,” he interjected. “You’re just not being very imaginative.”
We get to see a lot more of Rhy because the book takes place mainly in Red London and he is organizing the Element Games. Rhy and Kell are bond together now, one life two bodies, they are both having difficulties after the night everything changed and Rhy died. Both are hunted by terrible nightmares and both are feeling caged, for different reasons.
Rhy is angrier but more determined, he knows there is a weight on his shoulders, a guilt that will never go away and consequences to his foolish actions. He has to wear a lot of masks, has to lie, pretend to be someone he isn’t. Then we are given a little bit more about his past, a particular event that broke him a little and then I find myself wanting to know more and more about it but it’s barely a paragraph. Please, tell me there is going to be more details about it! By the way, Rhy is still charming and flirty and a little narcissistic, I missed him! He has a beautiful face and he knows it!
“The prince shrugged. “Who needs magic when you look this good?”
“At the sunroom doors, he cast a glance back, and found Rhy looking at him with an expression that might have been I’m sorry, but also could have been fuck off, or at the very least we’ll talk later.”
Kell is different, a prison in what he thought was his own home, tormented by the power he had with the stone from Black London, he needs more, he wants to do so many things but the thought of hurting his brother is keeping him back, he is not giving 100% of himself.
When he is not hurting for that reason, he is thinking about Lila. She left 4 months ago and he is waiting for her to come back. Kell cares about her in a way he doesn’t completely understand, after all, he knew her only for a few days.
There was a scene with Kell that really hurt me, I understood his frustration, the feeling that no matter what you say and what you do, people are still going to make the same mistake over and over again getting away with it without consequences while you made a poor decision once and you have to be the only one that is seeing as guilty and wrong. Forever. This is not fair and I was so angry I wanted to take Kell with me, punch everyone who was hurting him and escape to a 5th London, one I’d create myself only for him and me.
“Why are you defending her?” he snapped, rounding on his brother. “Why am I the only one in this fucking world to be held accountable for my actions?”
Lila Lila Lila. I had a little problem with her, one I didn’t have in the first book. She is reckless, she throws herself in dangerous situations and challenges her capacities to the limits. That’s a good thing but in this book she is selfish and she doesn’t care about what her actions might do to whoever is around her. That bothers me a lot. I get you want to see where this new you can get you, challenge is a part of you, you want more and more etc, but if someone you care a little about is telling you that your actions might have terrible consequences not only for you but for more than 10 people, maybe ruining their lives, why do you react with a smile and act like you don’t care? What is wrong with you? You are stubborn but there has to be a limit, people can get hurt, can lose everything they have but you don’t care because you already lost everything and you want to feel alive? Does that seem like an excuse? It doesn’t make me feel good that there is a chance you get away with it because the principle of it is wrong and I can’t forgive that. Sorry Lila but in this book you were my least favorite. I hope she starts thinking about her actions in the third book.
“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”
Same angry feelings I had for the Queen and King. They made Kell feel like a pawn, a piece of nothing that was only good at making mistakes and now is only good to keep their son alive. You can’t expect me to like you when you make a precious thing like Kell cry. You made tears of frustration and sadness roll down his cheeks, you monsters!! You had to see my face, it was extremely murderous.
The Element Tournament and everything happening around it wasn’t the only plot of this book. Something is changing in other Londons that weren’t supposed to change. Magic is waking, old “friends” are making a comeback, new “friends” are starting to rise and demand power. The third book is going to painful to read but I can’t wait.
My thoughts are all over the place, this review is a mess and I need the sequel asap and I demand a happy ending because my heart can’t take more of this before breaking completely.
Do I recommend it? Yes, magic, beautiful magicians, flirtatious princes, etc, you won’t regret it.
☆: It made my “favourite books” list