A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab ☆

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“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.
Rate: 5+++/5
☆: It made my “favourite books” list

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab ☆

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“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” he said, but the fight was bleeding out of his voice. “Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.”

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Why you should read this book: Because it’s magical, a magical book with the magical power of making you fall in love with it.

Kell, one of the two last Antaris, magicians who can travel between the 4 Londons that coexists in different dimensions, has the job of passing royal correspondence between the various Kings and Queens. He has a side hobby of smuggling trinkets from the various Londons and that illegal hobby is used against him when he is set up and accused of treason. He has in his hands a really dangerous token, one that can destroy the peace they have now. During his personal quest to get rid of this dangerous thing he is robbed of it by Grey London’s thief Lila Bard. Lila will force him to take her with him in his adventure because there is nothing she wants more than being free and see “everything”.

“Looking for trouble, he’d say. You’re gonna look till you find it. Trouble is the looker, she’d answer. It keeps looking till it finds you. Might as well find it first.”

Loved this, it has everything I love in a story: magic, a strong girl who can rock males’ clothes, different dimensions, weird languages, cute guys and cruel villains, the ones that want you deader than dead.

There are 3 Londons, Red, White and Grey, 3 different worlds with different cultures, different languages and, it seems, different smell? There were 4 Londons before: Black London abused magic and it consumed them and started spreading like a plague through the doors to the other worlds. Red London sealed its doors and White London had to fight hard and now they are a world that it’s fading. Grey London has almost forgotten about magic and Red London has the perfect balance, it’s the best place to live in it appears.

Kell, our wonderful main character, is an Antari, someone who was born with blood magic. One of his eyes is completely black as a result of this. Antaris are the only ones that can open doors through the worlds and after the latters were sealed they started to disappear leaving only two still alive, the other Antari being Holland from White London.
Kell is sweet, maybe a little too grim sometimes, he thinks he doesn’t deserve what he has, he doesn’t deserve the love he is being given but the King and Queen of Red London and he doesn’t think he deserves being seen as a Prince. He can be very stubborn but his love for his brother Rhy will prove essential to his quest. Kell is a cute little guy, he feels older than he really is but at times he feels little, a little lost boy, maybe because he is almost the last of his kind and because he doesn’t know who he was before he was 5 years old. That’s a mystery I hope will be explained in the sequel.

The other Antari is Holland. He serves the twisted evil Dane twins, Athos and Astrid of White London. They crave power and magic and compelled everyone into obeying their evil desires. I don’t like them but as villains they are perfect, deeply evil and merciless. I wanted to punch them every single time, that’s how evil they were, they made me violent. Mission accomplished twins, you are evil enough for me to hate you!

“The bodies in my floor all trusted someone. Now I walk on them to tea.”

Lila, our not-so-damsel-in-distress-but-a-wannabe-pirate is exactly what Kell needed to keep him from joining the dark side. Go away from the dark light, Kell, it’s baaaad! Lila is a thief, she pickpockets in order to eat and live. She is all by herself dreaming of being a pirate with shiny boots and her own ship. Captain Bard! She has a very strong will and is very brave. She doesn’t only want adventure, she wants her freedom, to be able to be what she knows she deserves to be. I was always cheering for her, she is lovely!

“Lila Bard lived by a simple rule: if a thing was worth having, it was worth taking.”

Rhy, the flirtatious prince of Red London and Kell’s kind of step brother. They love each other so much it hurts. I had heart-shaped eyes all the time they were together or thinking of each other. What a wonderful time to be alive!! I want to see more of Rhy, we got to see only a little bit but I already fell for him. I fall for everyone so maybe it doesn’t really count but Rhy is special, he is cute, cuddling and loves his brother. There’s nothing more you could want in a guy. His smile lights entire cities!

“He’s … charming and spoiled, generous and fickle and hedonistic. He would flirt with a nicely upholstered chair, and he never takes anything seriously.”

The way the story is written keeps you glued to the pages. If I wasn’t very fond of sleeping I would’ve finish this in one day but sleeping is one of my favorite activities and I do it so well.

I fell in love with the author, what a woman, I am so glad I got to meet you and your fantastic books. This is my second and of course it won’t be my last. Keep them coming and I’ll keep buying and reading them.

Read it and let it fill you with magic!
Do you smell flowers? Because I do.

Do I recommend it? Yes, it is pure magic.
Rate: 5+++/5
☆: It made my “favourite books” list

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