Written by: Victoria Schwab
Published by: Tor
Release date: February 23rd 2016
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository, Audible
Add on: Goodreads
** Spoilers for book 1 in this synopsis!! **
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.
As I start writing this review, I’ve literally just finished this book, and I just… can’t. I can’t. I sort of just want to leave you with a screenshot of my Goodreads updates and leave it at that, but I won’t do that to you. I actually do need to get some words out. Because this book is amazing and I really need to tell you why. So here goes.
Where do I even begin…?
A Gathering of Shadows is the kind of book I adore — one whose driving force is the characters. I can’t say too much about the plot, because a huge chunk of plotty stuff is packed into the end — along with a SUPER COOL MAGICAL TOURNAMENT heck yes — with a lot of ominous lead-up to that plotty stuff along the way. Shadows isn’t slow, though, and a plot-heavy conclusion doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t happen in the rest of the book. Oh man. Stuff happens. And so much of that stuff is my favorite thing — character-focused.
These bromances are my favorite.
So, here’s a bit of background: Kell is restless after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, and he desperately needs an outlet to let off some magical steam. Kell’s discontent is rubbing off on Rhy thanks to their bond; and Rhy is also suffering a devastating amount of guilt over all the deaths that happened in his kingdom, which he sees as his fault. (Cue me clutching Rhy to my heart and protecting him for all time, my little cinnamon roll 😭)
I sort of see A Gathering of Shadows as Kell and Rhy’s book, in a way, and their relationship is just… omg. Maybe I’ve been starved of seeing friendships like this in books, but more than anything else, this relationship is the one that made me the most emotional throughout. The two of them fight and get angry at each other, and they are both so torn up about their own feelings. They love each other so much, but they are both so hung up on their own guilt — and on what they see as being a burden to each other… I just have too many emotions about them that I DID NOT ASK FOR, thanks Schwab, I’ll be sending you my therapy bills.
But though Kell and Rhy were the heart of Shadows, for me, there was another relationship that I absolutely adored — that of Lila and Alucard. Alucard is a pirate captain — sorry, “privateer” — and he and Lila become nearly inseparable after Lila joins his crew and becomes their best thief. Their friendship grows despite the masks they both wear — those of near-constant secrecy — and yet despite that, they seem to understand each other in a way that others don’t. I’m really, really excited to see more of them in book three.
But the ships are pretty great, too…
I would be remiss if I didn’t touch at least a little bit on the romantic relationships in this book as well, because SHIPS. Though romance has never been a focus of this series, I am totally okay with that, and Lila and Kell continue to be my OTP. Their connection is undeniable. Though they’re apart again for some time (Lila off being pirate-y and Kell off being… well, his usual grumpy self :P), it’s time spent becoming more self-aware, and making sense of their feelings for each other, good and bad. And when they finally see each other after their separation… well. Let’s just say it’s worth the wait.
Rhy also gets a bit of romance in this book… well, kind of — his ex makes a return. 😁 But imho, tbqh, they NEED to get back together. Like, immediately.
Mostly I just CAN’T EVEN with these characters.
Something that I loved about A Gathering of Shadows is that the characters are put into situations that force them to show their true selves. Who they are, what they want, what their motivations are… In a book where characters’ many masks and different faces are so important, and so prominent, they face things that are at the core of who they are. They’re messy, and contrary, and they can be angry, and they can fight for what’s good and right but they can also be ruthless. They can find utter joy in power, but recognize the danger in it, too. They do stupid things, and wonderful things, and frustrating things, but at every corner, whenever they are faced with those choices, it is so clear why they’re making them.
Send help, I’m having FEELS again. 😭😅😭 And if you ever need proof how much I could not handle these characters or this book…
My Goodreads updates tell you all you need to know about my emotions.
If you haven’t picked up A Darker Shade of Magic yet — please, for the love of all that is heart-stoppingly PERFECT in this world, read it. And then immediately pick up A Gathering of Shadows. And then come freak out with me about that ending omg because I think it actually killed me.
Seriously though, this book. This series. It’s like it was written specifically for me. It’s full of magic, adventure, danger, feels-wrecking characters, and endings that will leave you completely breathless until the next book. You cannot afford to miss this.
PS: I love this series so much, I even opened a Society6 shop for it! Okay, not really, I will be making other designs, but for now, it’s all ADSOM all the time! 😉 Click the photos to see more items in each design’s collection!