Review: A Gathering of Shadows

Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows cover Book title A Gathering of Shadows
Series Shades of Magic #2
Author V.E. Schwab
Pages 512
Year published 2016
Category | Genre Adult | High Fantasy, Parallel Universes
Rating 4.5 stars

SPOILER WARNING FOR A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC!

Official Summary

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

“A magical kick-ass sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic”

Frequent visitors of this blog would have noticed my slightly unhealthy obsession with A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s no wonder that A Gathering of Shadows was one of my most anticipated 2016 releases. I read it the moment my preorder was delivered to my ebook reader. Was AGOS the sequel I was hoping it to be? Nope, not at all. It completely went the other direction from what I thought I wanted. I had hoped for answers and explanation about what happened, but what AGOS is, it’s all about the future and consequences. And somehow I think I like it better this way.

Review

In A Gathering of Shadows, Red London is preparing to host a magic competition called Essen Tasch, with magicians from its neighboring countries, Faro and Vesk, also taking part. The result is what one would expect: even more magic, (slightly) more politics, and tons of fun(?) interactions.

Characters

Not gonna lie, I’ve grown attached to these characters. Kell and Lila still take the center stage in A Gathering of Shadows, but a myriad of new characters were introduced, most notably is a pirate captain named Alucard Emery. There are others too, mostly magicians came to compete in Essen Tasch and the ship crews captained by Emery. Character development is totally on point, especially when it came to the crown prince, Rhy Maresh. We get to see a lot more Rhy in A Gathering of Shadows, and I’m definitely not complaining. Where in A Darker Shade of Magic, we only saw Rhy’s charming exterior, in this sequel Schwab gave us a glimpse into his head, and that made him even more relatable. His banters with Kell are part of what A Gathering of Shadows so precious. (Yes, I just used the word precious to describe a book).
If there’s a downside of introducing so many characters is that it’s so hard to keep track of them all. I’ll be honest with you, I gave up trying to remember which ship crew did what halfway through the book. But then again, maybe it’s because I didn’t pay enough attention to them earlier?

Worldbuilding

In A Darker Shade of Magic, we learned about the four Londons and the travels were mostly done between worlds. In A Gathering of Shadows, Schwab showed us that her world was not limited to London by introducing Red London’s neighboring countries, Faro and Vesk. Due to the circumstances in the book, however, we didn’t learn much about the actual countries, rather Schwab brought us the people, royals and magicians, into Red London. This, unavoidably, led to party and political interaction between the royals. However, if you wish for more politics and court drama, you’re a little out of luck. There aren’t much court drama in A Gathering of Shadows, saved for a certain princess. Perhaps, we will see more of these Lords and Princes in book three since I cannot imagine Schwab introducing them without any agenda.
Overall, I did wish to learn a bit more about the Faroan and the Veskan magicians and royals, but I appreciate Schwab’s effort to expand her world.

On magical side, there’s also an expansion. Where A Darker Shade of Magic focused on blood magic, A Gathering of Shadows is all about elemental magic. Earth, air, water, fire, each magician could control at least one of them, and some even two or three. They fight by manipulating these elements. And boy wasn’t that fun?!

Plot and narrative

It’s easy to complain that the Essen Tasch felt a little rushed, especially at the end. And maybe that’s true. The way I see it, however, was that Schwab used the competition to advance her story and characters growth. The actual ‘winning the competition’ itself is not essential like in Hunger Games (or Red Rising, if you will). It was not about life and death, and in a way, I found it refreshing that Schwab didn’t succumb to the temptation of giving the magical one-on-one combat a larger proportion than it merits. Sure, I admitted before, it was a lot of fun seeing the magical tricks and scheming done by each magician, but I found the less magical interactions between the characters to be at least as interesting and somehow more essential to the plot. Feel free to disagree with me, though.

The book itself started out well-paced, balancing between friendly banters and actions. In the last third or so, however, it really took off, like REALLY running REALLY fast. If you’re like me, and I don’t wish the feeling I had to anyone, you’ll be flipping the last few pages super fast and then stared at the acknowledgements with disbelief look upon your face.

Do I like that ending? HAHAHAHA.

Verdict

A Gathering of Shadows offers a magical experience and it was highly enjoyable. I got a new book to obsess on for sure.
As for the ending, it is great if you enjoy the sensation of dangling in the air in a chairlift when the ride stops moving and you start to laugh hysterically because what else is there to do?

Final score

4.5 stars
4.5 stars (out of 5 stars)


Let me know, have you read A Gathering of Shadows or do you plan to read it? If you have read it, what do you think about the book? Do you like it better than A Darker Shade of Magic? Feel free to agree and disagree with my thoughts about it.


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February Most Anticipated New Releases

February is a short month, but the number of promising new releases is HUGE. The last book in Red Rising trilogy (Pierce Brown) and Reckoners (Brandon Sanderson) will be out next month. Plus one of my most highly anticipated new release for 2016, A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab) and more!

Release Date: February 2nd 2016

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles Short Stories Collection) by Marissa Meyer | GOODREADS PAGE

Stars Above Cover

Stand-alone or series: Collection of short stories from The Lunar Chronicles

Category | Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fairy Tale

I have only read Cinder and Scarlet out of the four-book series, but I loved them. For those of you who have devoured the series and want more, this collection of stories might just be exactly what you need. It includes 4 short stories already published and 5 never been published stories, plus an excerpt from Meyer’s upcoming book, Heartless.

Release Date: February 9th 2016

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard | GOODREADS PAGE

Glass Sword cover

Stand-alone or series: The second book in Red Queen series

Category | Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy

Despite having issues with Red Queen (as mentioned in my review), I am still anticipating the next installment from Aveyard. Hopefully, this book delivers.

Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown | GOODREADS PAGE

Morning star cover

Stand-alone or series: the last book in Red Rising trilogy

Category | Genre: Adult | Fantasy, Dystopia, Science Fiction

Here’s another series I’m not totally in love with. I have only read the first book, though, and my fellow bloggers convinced me that the second book is even better. So, I’ll continue with this series. But never mind me. There are tons of fans of this trilogy that have been counting the days to the book release. I hope it meets your expectation!

Release Date: February 16th 2016

Riders (Riders #1) by Veronica Rossi | GOODREADS PAGE

Riders cover

Stand-alone or series: The first book in Riders series

Category | Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythology

Rossi, most famous for her series Under the Never Sky, is back with a new series called Riders. It’s about a boy who turned into one of the four horsemen and had to save humanity from an ancient evil but failed. Sounds good?

Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson | GOODREADS PAGE

Calamity cover

Stand-alone or series: the last book in the Reckoners series.

Category | Genre: Young Adult | Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Alternate Future

And now, for my mandatory Brandon Sanderson mention.
After releasing Bands of Mourning in January, he’s back with another book, this time it’s a YA. Yep, it’s Calamity, the last book in Reckoners series. If you’re not familiar with the name, it’s probably because some of us refer to it as Steelheart series (or maybe I’m the only one who did). I’m not going to read the synopsis because I am not fully caught up with the series, but Firefight is in my immediate TBR (having accidentally purchased it this morning *glares at amazon one-click purchase*) and after that, Calamity!

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere #1) by Heidi Heilig |  GOODREADS PAGE

Girl from everywhere cover

Stand-alone or series: The first book in the series

Category | Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Historical, Romance

I love me a good historical fiction and still looking for that perfect time-travel book. Also, this book has overwhelmingly positive early reviews on goodreads.

Release Date: February 23rd 2016

A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab | GOODREADS PAGE

A Gathering of Shadows cover

Stand-alone or series: The second book in A Darker Shade of Magic series

Category | Genre: Adult | Fantasy

You know, I’m going to buy all these books and eat protein bars for lunch.

I mean, A Darker Shade of Magic is an epic awesomeness and now think ADSOM plus pirates plus more Rhy !!! I seriously cannot wait for this book. And those teasers Schwab tweeted to torture us. Plus the six chapters I read. AHHHHH. I’ve pre-ordered a digital copy of this book because I cannot bear the thought of waiting three weeks for BookDepository to deliver it.

Side note: if you haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic, please get your copy now and join the internet movement #ADSOMreadalong starting on 02/01.

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky | GOODREADS PAGE

book cover

Stand-alone or series: stand-alone

Category | Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary, mystery, humor

The synopsis is quite funny, but the reviews said it’s pretty dark. Also, I am one of those people who grew up listening to and loving boy bands so of course I’m going to read this.


That’s it for this month. Let me know if any of those books is on your most anticipated releases for this month. What other books are in your list?


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News Round-up #2

book news round-up
Hey guys! I’m back with another news round-up post.
I wasn’t actually planning to make this a weekly thing, but there are some book-related news that excites me and I just need to share it to the world.

A Gathering of Shadows News

I know, you’re probably tired of me freaking out every single time V.E. Schwab announced A Gathering of Shadows news, but… YOU GUYS THIS IS REAL:

Of course, being the person with no self-control that I am, I went straight to Net Galley and downloaded it (it was auto-approved). And, to avoid posting spoiler here, I will just tell you that it was not what I expected, but I’m very much on board with where the story is heading.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them First Look

I am still in awe that we’re about to get another movie from the Harry Potter world. And that Eddie Redmayne will be Newt Scamander. Anyway, EW has the first look of the film, and it looks beautiful and amazing and I just want to cry. You can see the pictures here. Speaking of pictures, Pottermore revealed the official logo for the movie here and it gives me shivers because it reminds me so much of the HP movies.

Goodreads Choice Awards

Last, but not least, voting for the Goodreads Choice Awards has begun. Make sure to go to the voting page to support your favorite books. Opening round is until November 8. Semifinal on Nov 10 – 15 and Final Round on Nov 17 – 23.


Right, that’s it for this week. I’ll keep you posted whether you want it or not. 😉
Tomorrow, I’ll (hopefully) be back with a review.

A Gathering of Shadows: read the first two chapters

No idea how I missed this when it was announced, but the first two chapters of A Gathering of Shadows is now up on tor.com. The first two chapters were told from Lila’s perspective. I adore her so this excerpt is a major treat for me.

If you never heard of A Gathering of Shadows, it’s the second book in A Darker Shade of Magic series, by V.E. Schwab who also goes by the name Victoria Schwab for her young adults and children book.

Let me tell you a bit about ADSOM since I never actually reviewed it here.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a high fantasy book set in Londons. Yes, you read it correctly, there are more than 1 London in this book. There’s the prosperous Red London where magic is plentiful and brought to (mostly) good use, the White London where magic controls people that led to fights for magic, our very own Grey London where magic is no more, and the long-lost Black London where magic was once so powerful it destroyed the people and the city.

Our hero, Kell, is from Red London, and our heroine, Lila, came from Grey London. Kell is a Traveler, one of the few remaining people who can travel between these parallel worlds using blood magic. Lila, on the other hand, is a bold thief always looking for trouble. Long story short, Kell smuggles things and once, he smuggled something dangerous that made him a wanted person and set him on an adventure to fix his mistake while escaping for his life. He met Lila, although met is not the proper word, ‘robbed by’ is more appropriate. He saved her life, she saved his, then they embark on a dangerous journey to bring the item back where it belongs.

Okay, that is a long summary, I apologize.

I think Victoria could sum it up better than me.

A short list of things in ADSOM:

–Magic
–Cross-dressing thieves
–(Aspiring) pirates
–Londons (plural)
–Sadistic kings (and queens)
–A royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness
–More magic (blood magic, elemental magic, bad magic, etc. etc.)
–Epic magicky fights scenes
–Angst!
–And coats with more than two sides.

via Victoria Schwab blog

So, yes, you should read it, and then you can sit here with me impatiently waiting for the second book.