I put this book off for far too long. Oh how glad I was that I picked it back up again! Be still my beating heart, and please do be wary of spoilers for the Shades of Magic series as this is the second book in the series!
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ‘A GATHERING OF SHADOWS‘
It’s been four months since everything in Kell’s life changed. Four months since the chaos in White London and the brutal fight with the Dane twins. Four months since the stone known as Vitari was cast back to where it came from…Black London. Now Kell has to watch his every move, as slipping up could spell chaos not only for him, but his brother Rhy. With the Essen Tasch – The Element Games – coming to the shores of Red London, Kell must focus and stop thinking about the unpredictable Lila Bard, a task easier said than done. But while Red London thrives with the arrival of magical visitors, another London is coming back to life…
This was such a WHIRLWIND! If I didn’t have to go to work, eat, sleep or do anything else, I’d have finished this book within a day. V.E. Schwab is a complete magical genius when it comes to crafting worlds and keeping readers captured with the descriptions of magic. The characters from the first book are even stronger in this book, with Rhy taking more of a prominent step into the foreground and Lila getting to grips with her magic. Kell is, as always, brooding – this time he is eager to know whether Lila is okay and spends his time releasing his pent-up aggression and magic having been cooped up in the castle under watch from guards since the events of the previous novel.
The book also introduces lots of other new characters, from the competitors entering the Essen Tasch to a brand new and utterly creepy villain, Ojka. Schwab knows how to write tension perfectly, and the transitions on page between characters and worlds is seamless. It became so naturally easy to slip into the next character while reading; they needed almost no introduction as each one is written so differently. Lila is bold, reckless and determined, always ready to try and outdo herself, whereas Rhy has become darker and reckless in his own way, not caring about himself and desperate to get his brother to be more outgoing. The arrival of new character Emery Alucard was such a pleasant one. He was charm and grace and cunning all wrapped into one, and I loved him as soon as he was introduced. The scenes where he was helping Lila hone her elemental control were a wonderful show of clashing characters with underlying tenderness.
Although this book wasn’t as bloody as the first, I just know that the last book in the series is going to be a brutal, bloody mess. There’ll most likely be bloodshed in every chapter, and with how A Gathering of Shadows ended, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of loved characters end up dying. There was lots of build up, and I was frantically reading to get to the end just so I could find out what was happening.
If you love fantasy and magic, pick this series up. It is a truly wonderful experience, and you’ll find yourself flying through it and enjoying every single bit.
Final thoughts: Heart pounding magic – just as it should be! 5/5