A Gathering of Shadows

Kell2

“Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.”

Four months have passed since Kell and Lila defeated the Dane twins and sent the bad magic back to Black London. Lila, having joined a pirate crew, has started discovering her own magical powers while Kell struggles in Red London where everyone seems afraid of him. But when the illustrious Element Games are underway they’ll be brought back together as unforeseen danger looms in A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab.

*Review may contain spoilers*

If parallel travel, pirates, royal balls, and an elemental tournament between magician’s sounds like your cup of tea I present the second book in the Shades of Magic trilogy.

Unlike its predecessor A Gathering of Shadows has more substance as it explores the culture of Red London and the surrounding countries. It also furthers understanding of the magic in the world, how to wield it, and the effects it has if used carelessly.

But it feels more or less like Lila’s book rather than an equal partnership between her and Kell as ADSOM did. The trouble comes from having so many other POV chapters, which weren’t much more than exposition. Granted, Rhy’s chapters were nice, considering how I wanted more of him, but I wish Schwab had stuck with the structure of ADSOM.

The book focuses on the Elemental Games and makes a big deal about them, but trying to avoid being a spinoff of The Triwizard Tournament from The Goblet of Fire, Schwab ended the games prematurely; making sure her characters didn’t become the victors. And though I appreciated the change I wish Kell, Lila, and Alucard had faced each other in the three-person fights at least once.

And, honestly, Kell’s reason for being in the games, to release all the tension and anger he has bottled up, was rather concerning. Like, no, he needs to talk to someone about these feelings, not almost kill people with magic. I’m ashamed to say that emo phase came to mind multiple times when reading his sections.

Lila’s reason to join is a bit meh too, but at least it was something different with her, allowing development throughout the entire book and making me want her to become Queen of Black London or something in the future, which would be E-P-I-C.

Compared to the other problems Alucard Emery was the biggest of them all.

In the beginning I thought he’d become a saucy, loveable secondary character. But forcing himself onto Rhy, then learning of their past relationship, made him into this grimy, asshole I wanted killed during the Games. I can’t believe anything this character does is genuine and though I wanted a same-sex relationship I did not want it to be like this.

Just, ugh. No, thank you.

If anything I didn’t see much point to the Games other than showing off Lila’s abilities and showing how much weight Kell, sweet, idiotic Kell, has on his shoulders. I understand its importance, but does it really have to take up so much time and halt the plot so much?

I’m excited to read the final book, A Conjuring of Light, and seeing where the series will go and how it all comes together, but most of all learning of where Kell came from, and even Lila for that matter, will be the real interest for me.

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