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Shades of Magic #2

A Gathering of Shadows

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2016)
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as 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.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

512 pages, Hardcover

First published February 23, 2016

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About the author

V.E. Schwab

78 books63.3k followers
V.E. Schwab is the author of more than 20 books for children, teens, and adults.
Alternate spelling of Victoria Schwab.

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Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.2k followers
August 3, 2017
I'd like to propose a contender for the worst feeling in the world: going into a book with 100% certainty you’ll like it, and then that confidence slowlyyyyy - almost imperceptibly - fading into hatred. Especially when the average rating of said book is a four-point-f*cking-three-five.


But I can’t not hate this book. So much of this is nightmare scenario after nightmare scenario wrapped into one misleading synopsis. I was, quite frankly, SHOCKED by how quickly universally adored author V.E. Schwab introduced the not-like-other-girls trope, which you all know I abhor. At least buy a girl dinner first, Victoria. I'll set the scene: Liiiiilaaaaa (read that in a sarcastically loving voice, please) is at a market. Literally looking at knives because she has no personality traits or sense of fun. Anyway, another stereotype on two legs the captain of her ship says, for no goddamn reason except, I presume, his own terribleness: “Most girls covet dresses.” Bad enough, right? Already enough to make me cringe hard and dock at least a star or so? IT GETS WORSE. Darling Lila’s response: “I am not most girls.” It literally cannot get any more blatant. I was so disgusted I read the scene aloud to my sister, and she shuddered.

In fact, it’s kind of...strange how sexist this book is. The great thing about YA books is that a lot of them are written by feminists, but the subliminal messages here made my skin crawl. There’s not just the not-like-other-girls stuff (or, as I call it, Sexism Lite: So Quirky Ladies Who Hate Other Women Can Still Claim to be Feminist). Every. Single. Female character is judged for her appearance. Strong women are stripped of their gender identity - a couple of times, characters question whether muscular women are truly women at all. Which, like, f*ck you forever. Are you kidding me? And don’t forget the princess (from Vesk?). Her only character trait is boy-crazy. Instead of being a powerful female leader, she follows Kell around like a lovesick puppy...exactly, we are told, what she did to Rhy a couple years before. And don't forget the disapproving tone of the text when she's with any man. Subliminal slut shaming - cool! Oooh, and “She looked like the kind of girl who would point to something — or someone — and say, ‘I want one of those.’” Wow! Please tell me more about how there are kinds of girls.

More fun stuff: I literally hate all of these characters. How often does that happen?! Like, don’t get me wrong, I am completely just a heartless vessel designed to carry as much bitterness and anger as possible, but usually I’m at least neutral toward somebody. Not here. We follow four-ish main characters: Alucard, Rhy, Kell and Lila. (Putting Lila last because, if you couldn’t already tell by the fury leaking through this, she is the crown jewel in my treasure trove of loathing.)

The fun thing about this book is we get two - yes, two! - characters fighting for dominance over the same piece of sh*t stereotype! Yeah, Schwab had so much success with one character in that dumbass role that she went two for two in this one. I’m talking about Rhy and Alucard, and I’m talking about the YA male character archetype that I CANNOT ESCAPE. The roguish, flirty, handsome societal elite, who’s just soooooo tired of his hard-knock life of wealth and luxury and because of it can’t even stand to live up to expectations or within social bounds. Also, we’re always supposed to find these types funny, and I have never cracked a smile at one of these dumbos.

I feel like I can’t goddamn escape these goons of late. They’re the Will Herondales, the what’s-his-name from Heartless (the jester guy who wore eyeliner), Adrian from Bloodlines (will I ever finish that series?), one or more of the 8000 guys from Throne of Glass (literally can’t remember). Sorry I spaced on some of the names, but there’s an epidemic of these bozos and they’re SO unmemorable. But to have TWO of the same stereotype?! In the same book?! Extraordinary. I’ve never seen anything like it (and pray I never will again).

Now...Kell. There is no way on God’s great green Earth I can fill a paragraph talking about Kell. He is the most boring character to ever boring up his way through a trilogy. Does the boy have any traits? Does he have a sense of humor? Fun, maybe? No? He’s just going to grumble around for 500 pages and be in love with Lila for no reason? Okay.

And...here we go. The moment I’ve been waiting for since approximately page 17 of this book. Talking about why LILA SUCKS UP A STORM. The gal’s a prime example of a really annoying factor of bad character-writing: telling and not showing. How many times are we TOLD, “Lila is smart. Lila is a quick study. Lila was born with the magical talent of the Chosen One, but maybe if we don’t use that term then you won’t notice and write about it in your reviews. Lila is brave. Lila is strong. Lila looks for trouble.” Now, compare that to how often it’s actually proven. Rarely, if ever. It’s annoying and boring and makes me want to sign V.E. Schwab up for an intro to creative writing class.

But that’s not where my problems end with ol’ Lila. No, it takes a bit more than that to end up on my most-hated characters list. Lila’s an annoying, bossy brat with a death wish, an inferiority complex, and the impenetrable belief that she knows better than everyone else. She knows better than her captain: when she is so insubordinate that Alucard has to remind her “I am your captain! You are my crew,” she thinks, “The barb struck with unexpected force.” NOT A BARB, LILA. YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE. YOU ARE A PETTY THIEF ABOARD A SHIP. GET OVER YOURSELF!

She does the same to the head-magicky-guy (I kind of never paid attention to the terms in this book). At one point in the last book, I guess, he told her he thought she had magic within her.

Lila latches onto that and uses it as her justification for making a metric sh*t ton of bad decisions that could have extraordinarily negative impacts on her, her loved ones, and the entire goddamn world(s). When Chief Inspector Magic tries to prevent her from making one of these many dumb choices, she responds, "You told me that I had magic in me. Now you don't think I have what it takes?" Um, you’re untrained and a full-on dumbass and you want this guy who actually knows his stuff to fan your already-enormous ego and tell you you can win a huge magic tournament?

And she does it again, to Kell, who knows more about her and more about the kind of magic she wants to do than ANYONE. And she’s just a total bitch to him and he’s all, “yeah ok” and kisses her stupid face. Ugh. I’m getting so angry AND putting off math homework that’s due in 37 minutes. It’s time to stop talking about Lila and try to wrap this shindig up.

So much of this book is just...cliche to me. That moment when Lila is talking to the man at the mirror stall and he calls her Lila and she goes, all quasi-spook-ily, It wasn't until after I left that I realized I had never told him my name.................... or whatever? Made me GAG. And it wasn't even for anything! That guy never comes back. We never get more info, really, on the mirrors or on the shopkeeper or any of that. It's just a dumb cliche being used for a dumb cliched manner of foreshadowing. Like, omg, does she want the dark power slash thing she is entirely uneducated about?! Even though she shouldn't?? Even though the big strong experienced man warns her not to do whatever said thing is? Oh my god! I have never read anything like that before! Except, like, you know...The Winner's Kiss, Divergent, Siege and Storm, Throne of Glass, The 5th Wave, Passenger, Rebel Belle, Alice. I could definitely go on. Because that is one of my least favorite tropes that also manages to be super boring in every instance it is used. Seriously, shall I ever cease to be astounded by the untouched realms of young adult fantasy this book doth discover?

And after all that, it’s not even fun. I wanted to read about a magic tournament, but it took 350 pages to get there and only lasted about 100 (generously). The rest of the book is a carbon copy of the events of the last book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the grand cliffhanger of the book happens in the exact same way at the exact same event as the last book. It is, in other words, a snoozefest.

Bottom line: clichéd, sexist, teeming with some of the worst characters I’ve ever read, misleading, repetitive, occasionally illogical, and boring. Does that sum it up? Bleh.
Profile Image for Petrik.
674 reviews42.7k followers
February 3, 2018
It’s unbelievable how I started this book with the lowest possible expectation and it still managed to disappoint me. I know this is a beloved book in the YA community, you might wanna stay away from reading this review if you’re easily offended. Seriously stay away.

I think it’s better for me to start off with the parts I like about the book first, there’s only a few anyway. First, Holland, every single appearance from him made the plot and the book so much better, despite his appearance being rarer than the amount of Hinduism in my city. Second, the last 50 pages of the book were actually quite good, with some flaws but at least it’s captivating. Finally, VE Schwab's prose remained great to read as always. Holland is literally the only character that pushed me into finishing this trilogy cause I need to know more about him and his fate.

Now, for all the shit, A Gathering of Shadows, where do I even begin with the problem in this one? Let’s start with an easy one first. This book is majorly afflicted with the infamous 2nd book syndrome, the first 350 pages are painful to read, pretty much a pointless filler. A cow’s opinion is better than these 350 pages and for god sake a cow’s dialogue is literally only “moo” “moo” “moo”, see how pointless that sounds? Well, that’s how the first 350 pages are. It’s about preparing for a magical arena tournament, which ended up being a huge copycat of Avatar: The Legend of Korra.

The battles in the arena itself are okay at best which made reading the 350 pages of nothing completely a worthless experience. Don't get me wrong, I love slow paced books, most adult fantasy books I read are slow paced and trust me, the books I love used these pages carefully. Building character developments, slowly building relationship, explain more on the world-building aspect etc. Not spending time brooding, doing insta-love, random making out and obsessing over Delilah fucking Bard, which I’ll get into in a moment.

I’m also very disappointed with how much time the characters spent on Red London, seriously there are 4 London, make use of them please. What’s the point of creating 4 London if the story is going to take place almost all the time in Red London?? What are you doing? Trying to make us see the color of apple in London? Every time the story shifted to White London (scarcely) it’s actually so much better. However, the most significant problem I had with the book lies in one and one factor only. The damn characters, especially Lila fucking Bard or Lila fucking bad or Lila fucking Bald, whatever her special damned kind is.

Kell and Rhy spent all their time here fighting and whining over being saved? “WAHHH WAHHHHH YOU SAVED MEEEEE LET ME DIEEEEE BUT I WANNA LIVE AND I’M SAD WAHHH WAHHH YOU PISSED ME OFF”

Dude….. kill yourself… bite your tongue, chop your head off, climb the Big Ben like you belong in the Assassin Creed and jump yourself to death, I don’t care just… stop whining over being saved. Seriously I can’t stress this enough, other than Holland I seriously just want all these characters to die. BUT none of them can compare to the ultimate Mary Sue, Delilah fucking bard, the Wonder Woman, the alien, the predator, whatever she is cause she doesn’t know too.

I was led to believe the main character of this series is Kell, I was wrong. It was Lila, the narrative treated the reader as if we’re brain damaged or have short term memory. It will remind us countless times during everyone’s POV that Lila is unlike most girls. I liked her in the first book and I can’t believe how much I hated her in this installment. She’s an ultimate Mary Sue, apparently 4 months is enough to become a fluent speaker in a new language, and become a magician, from a thief. In the first book she was just a thief. In this one she’s a female Voldemort but wait… I shouldn’t call her a female because she’s one of a damned kind.

Here's most dialogues around Lila in the book, featuring me

Me: Hi Lila
“I am one of a damned kind”

Me: urmm okay? So how are yo--
“I am not most girls.”

Me: ….
“I am not most girls.”

Me: Okay I get it you’re not most girl, you just said—
“I am one of a damned kind”

Me: Okay you fucking E.T I get--
“I am not most girls.”

Me: Hey-
“I am not most girls.”

Kell walking towards me with his endless angst and frown but then, seems like a random thought appeared in his head and he said:
“Lila is unlike most girls.”

“I am not most girls.”

“I am one of a damned kind”

Drew Barrymore from the movie ‘50 First Dates’ would’ve remember Delilah fucking Bard for the endless repetition in the narrative to always remind the reader that she’s one of a kind, badass, can do shit, put Lila in a Star Wars and she’ll be the ultimate Jedi oh my lord.

“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”

Yeah, including my brain for reading your stupidity.

Here’s one of the few trying so hard to be badass but idiotic dialogue.
“Everyone’s immortal until they’re not.”

No shit. What’s next? Everyone’s dead when they’re killed? Everyone’s alive when they have a heartbeat? You can clap if you have hands?

This is a book that should’ve been condensed by at least 300 pages and it would’ve been so much better. There’s way too many useless information that wouldn’t affect anything in the main story. Plus the ending left us in a cliffhanger just when the story FINALLY about to get interesting and now I have to continue because my momma didn’t raise a quitter and I’m not about to quit now. I’ve prepared some alcohol for my next read, I hope it could be better but my expectation for the last book is minus zero.

If you enjoy the book, I'm truly happy for you. I wish I could but I can't.. not for this one. Also, if you’re wondering why I’m reading this series, it’s because VE Schwab tricked me completely into thinking that this will be an adult oriented book like her ‘Vicious’ (which I love) and IT’S NOT! If I knew what I’m getting into, I wouldn't had spend any money I worked hard for into this trilogy.

You can find the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
February 25, 2016
Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.

I just love everything about this world. Read it in a single day and I cannot wait for the next book.

I think I'm a bit of an unintentionally picky reader when it comes to fantasy. A lot of YA fantasy is heavy on the romance and low on the substance, which irks me, but I don't take much pleasure in overlong, dense, wordy adult fantasy series either. I want exciting world-building, strong characters and good pacing that doesn't sacrifice depth. And I feel like Schwab totally gets that.

The writing style is detailed and evocative - you can picture this world so easily, even though it is highly sensational, and you can feel the magic running through it. Schwab crafts scenes with both description and tension, firmly cementing her as one of my favourite fantasy authors.

It is a world for those who admire imagination. Alternate Londons, some with magic and some without, magic wielders, evil rulers, pirates and - in this installment - a magical tournament called the Essen Tasch. The author uses this tournament to draw the characters together, to create action and excitement, whilst behind it all there looms a dark threat.

With rich, evocative storytelling, an original, fantastically-conceived fantasy world, and colourful, weird characters, it's hard to complain. The book buzzes with magical secrets and new discoveries; like an adult version of Narnia, it is a way of walking through the wardrobe and facing all the wonderful and horrifying possibilities.

I enjoyed Kell's new experiences, as he comes to term with the lasting effects of what happened in the last book. I enjoyed all the backstabbing, cross-dressing and thievery. But, most of all, I just freaking love Lila. She is the baddest badass of them all and she doesn't give a shit.

A Gathering of Shadows goes deeper, drawing us further into this world and developing all the characters. It ends with a promise of more horror and action in the next book. I can't wait.
After all, you can kill people, but you cannot kill magic.
Not truly.

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Profile Image for Victoria Schwab.
Author 32 books103k followers
April 20, 2016
“I know where you sleep, Bard.”
She smirked. “Then you know I sleep with knives.”


It's hard to believe that A GATHERING OF SHADOWS comes out in less than three months!!!
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 9, 2020

Seven of my favorite Bookish Villains in one BookTube Video!
The Written Review

She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.
There are four Londons, layered on top of each other, each existing without knowing of the other.

Black London - wild, untamed magic. All-consuming madness.
White London - crippled, desperate, hungry magic. Slowly dying.
Red London - vibrant, thriving, full of magic
Grey London - the "boring" London, no magic, no spark, no nothing.

Each world is sealed though a special being(an Antari (ultra-rare, ultra-powerful magician) can travel between (like Kell, from Red London).

Years ago, Black London fell to the mad magic and was completely sealed - also sealing the fate of all those who lived there.

Four months ago, after a series of circumstances, a black stone from Black London made its way to Red London, infecting and spreading the corrosive magic.

It was thrown back into Black London, along with Holland (the Antari from White London).

Delilah Bard, a Grey Londoner, managed to finagle her way into Red London, help save the day and worm her way into Kell's heart.
“Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary."
"Be quiet."
"Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”
But, instead of settling down, Lila Bard decided to sail off and become a pirate (yes, really).
“I know where you sleep, Bard."
She smirked. "Then you know I sleep with knives.”
Now that Kell has been expressly forbidden from any unnecessary travel between Londons and Lilah is who-knows-where - for the first time, Red London looks grey to him.

Rhy, Kell's brother-in-name and prince of the land, decides to take over the Element Games (international magic competition) and smuggle Kell into it to help him blow off steam.
Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don't want to die - dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive.
But what once began as a fun, innocuous romp is quickly twisting out of their control. Soon, the brothers learn that Black magic never dies...
Everyone’s immortal until they’re not.
This book was so much fun!

It truly felt more like a companion book than an actual continuation of the series and I did not mind a bit.

(Companion - because of the random tournament taking up a majority of the page space.)

It was so much fun to read about the weird, whimsical world of Red London - the different countries and cultures were vibrant and extremely well-done.

I found myself not enjoying Delilah's character as much as I did in round one.

Book one she was bada** and one tough cookie...but it felt like this round she just took everything over.

It felt like the book was more focused on fulfilling Lilah's every whim rather than a realistic progression of the plot and development of the characters.

Also, anyone else starting to get annoyed with the Holland thing? The rest of the characters have almost a ridiculously over-the-top hatred of him.

It's like, they know Holland's every move was commanded by the White London's rulers and he was tortured continuously for years...and yet they're all like, "mmm...Holland, you are a garbage human."

Doesn't make sense to me.

All in all, I did enjoy this book and I am excited for round III!

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Profile Image for Sofia.
258 reviews6,443 followers
October 5, 2021
This is one of the most ridiculous books I've ever read.

A Gathering of Shadows picks up where ADSOM left off. Lila is learning how to be a pirate and Kell is being angsty. Lila is still telling herself how speshul she is, and Kell is still frowning. Does he ever stop frowning? No.

A tournament called the Essen Tasch, or Element Games, is due to start soon. Lila and Kell decide that they want to participate, so they pretend to be other contestants so they can infiltrate the tournament.

Why though?
Seriously. Why? What's the point of this book? The plot literally doesn't even begin until 65%. You may be wondering what happened before then. I don't even know. There were some really short magic lessons. Rhy continued to be an idiot. Over half of this book was pointless. One could even argue that there was no purpose to the magic tournament. The main conflict of this book was the same as it was in the last book. The villain resurrected. Wow. How creative. I'm so dazzled. In the end, they were in the exact same place they were at the beginning of the book. There was no net progress. No character development, no plot development.

In fact, there was character anti-development.

Lila was annoying in the first book, but in this book, she was even worse. She would repeat "I am one of a kind" to herself every time she had a little inner monologue. It was the stupidest thing ever. She was so not like other girls that I almost choked on my cereal.

"My witty banter is one of a kind."

"I've always been unique."

In this installment, Lila learns magic. She excels at it, despite having little-to-no training. Alucard, the captain of her ship, gives her a few lessons and bam, she's a master. Most magicians have to learn the intricacies of the magic system, but Lila is not like other magicians. All she has to do is say a speshul poem and there's the magic. She can use all the types of magic because she is One of A Kind. Everything comes to her so quickly, it's ridiculous. She doesn't have to work for anything. She's all like, "I am an accomplished thief who lives on my wits" when she has no wits. Where are her brains? They don't exist.

"I am one of a damned kind."

"What can I say, I've always been contrary."

She decides to join the Essen Tasch because she wants to have fun. She's been taking lessons for maybe a month, and she thinks she can go against these highly skilled magicians who have been training their entire lives. Every time she almost loses, she finds another speshul power she can use to defeat her opponents. It was so bad I laughed out loud a couple of times from the sheer cringe.

"What am I? One of a kind."

Lila has an inflated sense of self-importance. She thinks she's all that. We're told exactly what we should like about her. She's one of a kind. She's smart. She's clever. She's witty. She's strong. She's powerful. We get it. It's never shown, it's just said straight to our faces via her inner monologue. People keep warning Lila that what she's doing is stupid, but of course she's so smart and clever that she doesn't listen.

"I am not most girls."

Lila has basically no power. She's an elementary student in magic. And yet she's competing with these champions. Who thought this was a good idea? Lila couldn't even be bothered to ask simple questions about the Games before she joined, like how they kept score.

Delilah Bard. One of a kind.

Kell is the worst. He has literally no personality at all. He frowns. That's it. That's his personality. It's repeated over and over again. "Oh, Kell is frowning again." "Kell, stop frowning." "Kell furrowed his brow in a deep frown."


He has the personality of a plastic spoon. He has no sense of humor, no ambition, no dreams, no motivation. He's a blank slate. He had great potential in the first book, but now his entire life revolves around LiLa BaRd. I don't even know what else to say about him because he's so boring.

Rhy is the same stereotype I've seen over and over again. The moody, ungrateful, WiTtY prince who doesn't want to have responsibility and just wants to party. How funny. How creative. *yawns* He's so done with being rich and powerful and whatnot. How boring, am I right? He wants to be a RoGuE.

I hate this cliche. I hate it so much.

Rhy is so ungrateful for being alive. Kell literally SAVED HIS WORTHLESS LIFE, and he basically blamed him for it. Boo hoo. Cry cry. How sad that you were saved. I genuinely wish you hadn't been saved but that's a story for another time. He moans and groans and is a jerk to Kell when he's the only reason Rhy is alive.

The characters were hardly developed at all. They were empty shells. V.E. Schwab's strength is not in character building, but you would think that they would at least be more than shallow cliches. But no.

Everything about this book was bad. The villain revealed his evil plans right before trying to kill the protagonist in an elaborate manner and failing. The magic system was vague and badly written. Who has magic? Who can use it? Nobody knows.

Everyone loves Alucard, but he was just another roguish, attempting-to-be-witty male character who could go wreck his ship for all I care.

The foreshadowing was so stupid. It was supposed to be eerie or spooky or foreboding, but it was useless and it never went anywhere. There was a scene where Lila met this man who was selling mirrors and they had a talk. I felt like that was supposed to be foreshadowing, especially since the really cheesy, actually terrible line "she never told him her name" was used. Nobody uses that line unless they're about to do some horrible foreshadowing. But it didn't even count as foreshadowing because the entire scene was pointless. It went nowhere. Why would you tell him your name? You don't know each other. It's not like you need to be friends to buy a mirror.

There were two female characters in this miserable book and they were both stereotypes. Lila was the Strong MC who hated on all other women for being like other women and still called herself a champion for women. The other female character was a shallow, vapid princess who only cared about her appearance and seducing Kell.

She looked like the kind of girl who would point to something - or someone - and say, "I want one of those."

And then there were these awful quotes:

"I am your captain! You are my crew." The barb struck with unexpected force.

...it's not even a barb, Lila. It's facts. It's just the truth. You're not anything speshul.

0.5 stars


What was the point of this book? It had no purpose. There was no plot until 65%, and the tournament was the most ridiculous thing. Not like other girls is as common as breathing here.

review to come...
Profile Image for Książkowe Bajdurzenie.
31 reviews549 followers
April 26, 2023

Ta książka była jak rozwodniony krupnik. Pół biedy, że rozwodniony, ale ja nie lubię krupniku.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
December 2, 2020
The prince shrugged. “Who needs magic when you look this good?”

This book set fire to my feelings and shattered my mind. Tore my heart into pieces and stole my soul.
I am officially and utterly dead.

Victoria Schwab worked her magic like a genius. This book was flawless, from start to finish. From cover to characters, from plot to setting, from language to imagination. And while I thought A Darker Shade of Magic was amazing, it was only the tip of the iceberg. Nothing can compare to A Gathering of Shadows. (...well. Harry Potter can. But, I mean, please...)

The ending was - minor spoiler here - a stab in the chest. A Cliffhanger. Meaning endless waiting time for the sequel. How will I survive this?

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Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,257 followers
December 15, 2019
Simultaneously laughing and crying. Can I give this book more than five stars? Because it deserves at least forty.

Reread December 2019: a much slower beginning than I remember but I flew through the end. I feel like the first time I focused on Kell and Lila so much, so this time around I can surely say that Alucard is the best thing to ever happen and also Rhy is a worrisome sweetheart who makes me want to cry every single time I read his POV. Best ending to a book ever tho lol like hell ya
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,258 reviews8,701 followers
September 27, 2017
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

4.5 stars

Authors of series like to do this thing where they give you a first installment that while, of course, leaving unanswered questions, still manages to conclude nice and neatly.

You can't wait to get your hands on the next book, but only b/c you love the story and are desperate to see what happens next.

You feel safe when you finally get the next chapter.

The tension that plagued you while reading the prior installment, coming ever closer as you neared the end, like footsteps speeding up behind you, making you curse your stupidity for taking a walk alone at night in an unfamiliar city . . . That tension isn't there.

You've developed a trust, a camaraderie . . . an understanding with the author.


You have been duly warned.

When we last left Lila and Kell, they were parting ways. We were sad, but we expected no less. After all:

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

Kell can't go with her. He has responsibilities . . . PLUS, you know, there's that thing that happened, that thing that tied him even closer to the royal family . . . The royal family he's meant to be part of . . . The royal family that instead treats him like a commodity . . .

Lemme tell you, people--it gets WORSE.

Lila, on the other hand, is having the adventure she's always dreamed of. On a PIRATE ship. *coughs* I mean, privateer ship. She got her position by killing another crew member. *shakes head at Lila* Buuuuut it turned out they didn't like the fellow much anyway, so it all worked out.

A little too well, actually.

Lila develops a sort-of friendship with the captain. She earns the respect of the crew. Worse, she begins to feel like she herself is a true part of the crew.

Can't have that.

So when Captain announces his intent to return to Red London and participate in a prestigious wizards' tournament, Lila decides that she won't be going with them when next they leave.

And she doesn't.

But not for the reasons she anticipated.


Me: description

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Things happen in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, and those things have CONSEQUENCES. CONSEQUENCES that you will not believe until you see them for yourself.

What does it mean that Kell's life is now tied to another's? What will happen now that a living being from Grey London has permanently crossed over into Red London? And what would you say if I told you that you only think you've seen chaos in White London?

Last year, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC made my Best Books of 2015 list. This year, A GATHERING OF SHADOWS is already a strong contender for the #1 spot. If you have yet to check out Schwab for yourself, what are you waiting for? The woman is GENIUS. This world and the characters that populate it are one of the most unique I've encountered in ages. I love it. Even as I'm screaming at Lila to THINK before she acts. For once. Even as my heart is breaking for Kell, b/c he can longer ignore the charade of his circumstances. Even as all the Londons hover on the edge of DOOM . . . I love it.

Highly recommended.

Jessica Signature

My other reviews for this series:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
January 7, 2021
“You tried to seduce me, for information.”
“You can’t hold that against me forever.”
“It was last night.”

Alternate Title: mecrying.mp3

Kell is such an infinitely relatable bitter asshole of a character. He's a bit morally imperfect and he's so infinitely lovable.

Lila is completely bitter and can be reckless, but she's such a consistent character and I genuinely love her so. so. much. Please read this essay talking about Lila Bard and narrative agency it's smart and I'm exhausted

Rhy's character development is so awesome. In the first book, he was an okay character, but in this second book I loved him with every fiber of my heart. He's got some hidden depths and he's so interesting and funny.

The side characters killed me too, of course. Alucard is funny and a ton of fun. Holland is so morally bankrupt and yet I love him so, so much.

God, I love every character in this book so much. Someone please punch me in the face.

Alternate Title: mecryingharder.mp3

There's kind of a love square going on here, and it makes the book even better. I know that sentence sounds contradictory. But trust me, there's no annoying love triangle here. There are complex dynamics between characters, but it's not for drama.

V.E. Schwab does an incredible job with the platonic relationships here. I especially loved Lila and Alucard's banter.

The romance is built up very subtly and not the major focus. But oh damn, is it well written. Lila and Kell are a very well-built couple, and V.E. Schwab drew out the plot enough that I was begging for them to interact. That's talent.

Please just let them be happy. I just want all of them to be happy. Damn it.

Alternate Title: meSCREAMING.mp3

V.E. Schwab's writing is gorgeous as always. Her talent for describing setting especially stands out here. Usually I can't picture any settings in books, but I have such clear mental images of every moment of this book. And it never feels forced at all!

The plot is twisty and interesting. Saying anything about it is a spoiler, but I had so many emotions here. To be fair, I guessed one of the major twists, but I had been spoiled about an aspect of it, so that's not the books' fault at all.

However, the lack of direction to the plot in the first half bothered me. On one hand, I loved the extended character work and worldbuilding in the first half. On the other hand, none of the characters had any clear goal until around page 250, and the plot felt slightly less driven as a result. This is a complaint I had about book one as well.

All in all, I absolutely loved this. I worship Schwab to such a high degree. She's so talented.
div17: pansexual mc
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,129 followers
October 8, 2019
#1 A Darker Shade of Magic ★★★★★
#2 A Gathering of Shadows ★★★★★
#3 A Conjuring of Light ★★★★★

I cannot believe that I waited nearly a year between the first book and this one, but here we are, and now I’m convinced that Victoria sacrificed an unhealthy number of virgins for her writing skills, because this series is absolute magnificence. I loved A Darker Shade of Magic so much that I was nervous to see if the second book would hold up, but let me tell you, it absolutely did, and now I am both horrified and desperately in need of seeing how it all ends up.

“I am Delilah Bard,” she thought, as the ropes cut into her skin. “I am a thief and a pirate and a traveler. I have set foot in three different worlds, and lived. I have shed the blood of royals and held magic in my hands.”

I only thought that I loved the characters of this series in the first book, but that was nothing compared to the feelings that I have for them by this point. There’s Lila, who took me a little bit of time to be won over by in ADSOM, but who has me utterly captivated in this installment. Her brash, headstrong, clever nature is only magnified even further as she comes into her own in the world of Red London, and while she still feels this evident need to prove herself and to come out on top, her entire attitude has been tempered—if only slightly—by the pains that her previous actions have caused. She’s also still determined to avoid dealing with her feelings towards a certain redheaded Antari, which lends beautifully to the incredible slow burn of the brief romantic undertones to these books.

“I do not know why you two are circling each other like stars. It is not my cosmic dance. But I do know that you come asking after one another, when only a few strides and a handful of stars divide you.”

Precious Kell, on the other hand, is still my favorite; I’m constantly torn between being amazed by his skills and abilities, and wanting to jump in and protect him from the cruelty he faces, not only as one of the last remaining Antari, but as the neglected adopted son of the King and Queen. My years of reading fantasy novels have taught me that it’s difficult for me to relate to “lawful good” characters who rely so heavily on their virtues and honor, as Kell does, but Victoria writes him so flawlessly that it never grows stale or predictable. On top of everything else, his relationship with his brother, Rhy, is one of the most wholesome, pure, and precious things I have ever seen in my entire life.

Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.

Rhy Maresh is, I think, one of the most lovable fictional characters who has ever been written. I don’t know if I have ever met a fan of this series who does not adore him at least a little bit, especially upon getting to know the quiet self-loathing that resides under his charisma and charm. He broke my heart so many times during his struggles with the lengths Kell has gone to in order to save him, and the fact that he values his own presence in the world so little is crushing, yet nevertheless, Rhy is a constant source of drama, amusement, and sweet brotherly love in a world full of violence and fear. The fact that both of these princes would so readily give up everything for one another is perhaps my single favorite aspect to this gorgeous series thus far.

“Fix your crown, my prince,” he called back as he reached the door. “It’s crooked.”

Of course, this review would be wholly incomplete without taking a moment to talk about the utterly fantastic addition to the cast: Alucard Emery, privateer, playboy, magical aficionado, and captain of the Night Spire crew. He is hilarious, delightful in every way, and an absolute deviant who never fails to keep you guessing. I love his entire presence in the story, and though I am left with a million and one questions about his past and how it relates to the lives of the Maresh family, it is easily one of the things that I am most excited about tying up in A Conjuring of Light.

“Magic is tangled, so you must be smooth.
Magic is wild, so you must be tame.
Magic is chaos, so you must be calm.
Are you calm, Kell?”

Besides the wonderful cast of characters (including one special individual who I’m not going to mention here for fear of spoiling anyone, but let me say that I am absolutely ecstatic to see things through his perspective on occasion, and terrified to see what he will do next), there’s also the fact that, once again, Victoria proves her writing prowess through incredible action scenes and magical world-building. There is a tournament featured in this installment that never grows stale or dull; despite its potential for repetition, as is frequent with “trials” in books, not once did I lose the feeling of gripping the edge of my seat.

“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

This sequel also delves much further into the history of Red London and its surrounding lands, as well as the political climate between the kingdom of Arnes and its allies and potential enemies. It was such a fantastic buildup of information, but I can’t help but wonder how it can all possibly be addressed in the finale. That said, I have no doubts that I will be pleased with how everything turns out (and it doesn’t hurt that I know there are further books coming along in the future, too!).

They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which one of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding.

I don’t think I can say too much more without spoiling any of the twists and turns in this installment, so I’ll end this review on this note: if you enjoy fantasy worlds with lovable characters, a brilliant (yet never overdone) magic system, world-building and history for days, and enough twists and turns to never let you find a moment’s rest, I cannot recommend this series highly enough—and I cannot wait to read the final piece to the story!


Buddy read with Terry and Julie! ♥♥♥

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for Ben Alderson.
Author 18 books13.3k followers
April 14, 2016
I'm crying
i need the next book..
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.4k followers
August 5, 2018
okay. i knew this was going to be good, but i didnt expect it to be that good. oh sanct, that ending. im giving this five stars for the last 100 pages alone - my heart is RACING. and im beyond happy the third book is already out because i dont know how people managed to be patient enough to wait.

so where i thought the first book excelled in its world building by introducing the four different londons and their histories, i found the sequel gave amazing insight into the characters, more of their development was prevalent, and it even introduced some new key people. both aspects are important, but together they make one heck of a story. what really impressed me was how this didnt feel like a filler book, which many second books tend to be. but rather, this felt like a seamless, yet crucial, part of bridge that connects all three books.

again, this was a little bit of a slow burner, but it was much easier for me to get into because i felt like there was a little more going on. i really wish the games had taken up much more of the book - i found them so interesting - but i cant complain because the last 25% or so gave the reader so much. and the writing was on point, as always.

there is no question in my mind as to why this series is as loved as it is, so let the binge reading continue!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for  Teodora .
303 reviews1,633 followers
May 6, 2023
If you think I'm obsessed with this series...yeah, you're absolutely right.
I am.
And I regret nothing.

4.25/5 ⭐
“Everyone’s immortal until they’re not.”

Okay hear me out, I loved this book but it definitely had the middle book syndrome.

As always, Schwab’s books – even when they are in a series – have the same theme and characters, but they have different vibes. And this is something a love about her works.

It could be the same thing said three times, but each time there would be a change of the vibe, pace and action. It doesn’t even have to be another plot – just the same, told from the perspective of different characters. Everything would change drastically.

With A Gathering of Shadows , I didn’t feel like I was getting the same vibe I got with A Darker Shade of Magic , the first book. And that, in itself, was a good thing, but not always the best.

And I’ll tell you why: even though I enjoyed this second instalment, I felt like it was more made to be a bridge between book one and book three.

From the first book, the atmosphere was supposed to be dark, but in this one, it just became darker and heavier. And I think it would’ve figured given the title. But even so, I was expecting a bit more to happen.

I was almost half done with the book and nothing was really moving. There were only pieces being settled on a big board without a real intention of starting a game.

“I am grateful for the life you’ve bought me, though I hate the cost.”

The characters also seemed to have changed from one instalment to the next. Whereas I liked Lila in the first book, in this one she started being more and more stubborn.

She simply felt the need to be irrational and to always go looking for trouble hoping that she will find them. And she always did.

She never listened to anyone, she always did as she pleased and she was also being defensive about it. And to me, that became really tiring, especially because her ideas weren’t always the most brilliant of them all.
“Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”

Somehow, I managed to like the other characters more, which is good because they did the whole book more enjoyable.

Kell still remains one of my favourite characters, but in this one, Alucard is also someone to look forward to meeting. I found him a quite interesting character.

There is honestly not much for me to say about this book.
I enjoyed it as it was and it actually started to put ideas into movement towards the end, but until then, everything looked like the draft of a mastermind plan, ready to unfurl.
“Who knows? Maybe the world’s gone crooked.”
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,615 followers
September 28, 2019

I got to read more of the bad arsed, Lila Bard and Kell and Rhy! Yay!

I loved the beginning of this book with Lila. People for me, this was the best part of the book with what all Lila did to that crew! Holy crow!

I am Delilah Bard, she though as the ropes cut into her skin. I am a thief and a pirate and a traveler. I have set foot in three different worlds, and lived. I have shed the blood of royals and held magic in my hands. And a ship full of men cannot do what I can, I don't need any of you. I am one of a damned kind.

I also fell in love with Lila's captain aboard the Night Spire - Captain Aluccard Emery. He's so awesome! He is a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a whole lot of coolness =)

Not a whole lot goes on in the book after the fun stuff in the beginning. I feel it's just another set up for more things to come in the next book.

At some point though, magic welders come together in The Element Games called Essen Tasch. Some people I didn't expect were in these games and against each other. It was pretty damn cool!

I loved reading about Kell and Rhy together again. They are so funny and caring. They are so close in everything they do and it was so wonderful to see them fighting for each other. To read the things that only love for someone you consider your brother can bring to your heart. Rhy wants Kell to compete in the games but Kell doesn't want to for certain reasons.

"Kell. My greatest fear in life isn't dying. It's being the source of someone else's suffering. I know you feel trapped. I know I'm your cage. And I can't---" His voice broke, and Kell could feel his brother's pain, everything he tried to smother until dark and drown until morning. "You will do this, " said Rhy. "For me. For both of us."
Kell held his brother's gaze. "All right,"he said.

And Lila and Kell get to see each other again. And Rhy too, the whole gang. It was so great! And then . . . that ending!

Something Wicked This Way Comes

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
838 reviews3,756 followers
February 15, 2021

*laughs hysterically*

*choking sound*

Why, thank you, Victoria Schwab. Please don't mind my heart.

No, really. Feel free to crush it. I don't do holding grudges.


4.5 stars . Truth is, when I started A Gathering of Shadows, one of my best friend asked me if I thought she would like, and strangely, I wasn't able to answer straight away. Color me surprised. How comes this series holds such a strong grip on me and still I am hesitating when recommending it? I understood, then. These books? They sneak up on you.

There's honestly not that much action in the first halves of BOTH of them and yet you're never bored. You're enchanted, mesmerized like a child reading HP for the first time (YES, I'M GOING THERE), your eyes widening at the sight of this wondrous, original world served by its fascinating and real characters for whom you can't help but care deeply, including :

a kickass thief who's giving strong female-lead a new name (that's Lila, by the way) : Remember my complaints about Feyre in A Court of Thorns and Roses? I expressed how tired I was of the beloved (GAG) pattern implying that the only reason women fought was for their families, as if women couldn't, for the life of them, be badass for the thrill of it. Lila made a liar of me. Thank you, Lila.

"Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.
She'd always thought it was better than letting trouble find her, but floating in the ocean in a two-person skiff with no oars, no view of land, and no real resources save the ropes binding her wrists, she was beginning to reconsider."

a loyal magician whose doubts and outbursts make you want to both smack and hug him (but mostly, hugs). Eaten by guilt, confused by his sudden thrives for darkness (am I bad to love that part?), in need to adapt to his bond with his brother, so freaking alone and caged, Kell stays one of my favorite characters because he's flawed and brave and endearing and oh, yes, often wrong. (MY FROWNING BOY!) (in redheads I trust) (←how could I NOT love him now tell me?)

"You could at least pretend to be grateful."
"And you couldn't have picked something a little more...I don't know...imposing?"
"...A bloody handprint?" retorted Rhy. "Oh, what about a glowing black eye?"
Kell glowered.
"You're right," continued Rhy, "I should have just drawn a frowning face. But then everyone would know it's you."

a deceptive Captain who may or may not be a pirate (how's this for awesome?). Okay, okay, I have to admit that he made me narrow my eyes several times at first. What? I come from a loyal bunch (frowning boy, remember?). But in the end, his character added so much wit and fun to the story that he won me. Also, that development? YES YES YES.

"Alucard had shaken his head, exasperated. "The accent of a royal and the sensibilities of a thief."
But Lila had only smiled. She'd said something very similar once, to Kell. Before she knew he was a royal. And a thief, for that matter."

a lost prince who's endlessly trying to keep darkness at bay : Oh Rhy, Rhy, Rhy. I cannot say that I always agreed with his choices, but the complicity between him and Kell - the loyalty - prevents me for holding any grudge (if I was into grudges, that is)

"There was a new restlessness to his motions, a taut energy that mirrored Kell's. And yet, Rhy's was different. Manic. Dangerous. His moods were darker and their turn sharper, cutting the span of a second."

✔ ... Oh, and those assholes (you know who I mean) (there're plenty to choose really)

As for the plot, although I was more than excited to come back into this world, and that Kell and Lila own a special place in my heart, I have to admit that I spent the beginning feeling restless because I longed for them to be together - not necessarily romantically (WHO AM I KIDDING) (THE CHEMISTRY!! GAH!), but really, their interactions? They're the best, and they both balance each other's perfectly. Separated, they lose a little bit of their charm in my opinion.


Now that I finished the book, I understand why Victoria Schwab made this choice and the last 40%? Brilliant, exhilarating, and as far as I'm concerned, PERFECTION. There's something to say about a fantasy plot that stays unpredictable, because trust me, when you read a lot of fantasy, it becomes rarer and rarer. This is why I'm rounding up my rating.

Give me thrill, give me peril, give me gasps, and I'm the happiest reader of the world.

My heart, though.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Claudia Lomelí.
Author 11 books75.2k followers
May 30, 2018



Lila, you must save them all.

4,5 stars.
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
June 28, 2018
congratulations! semifinalist in goodreads' best fantasy category 2016!

Lila shrugged. "Everyone's immortal until they're not."

this is one of those crossover dealies that isn't marketed (or priced, unfortunately) as YA, but there's no reason for it not to be in the YA section, from a reader perspective. from the publisher's perspective, obviously it's always better when you can set your cover price in the ten bucks higher adult-market range, but since this is such a pretty book, i'm okay with that THIS TIME, even though it's such a fast read, you'll tear through it like you're at a cookie party. (please invite me to cookie parties)

i was not crazy about the first book in this trilogy. it was fine - i liked the world in which it was set, and i loved the character of lila, but it seemed to be doing a lot of buildup and stage-setting without delivering much actiony payoff. however, when i read the synopsis of this one, promising an international magic-based tournament, i thought, "oh, yes - that will have some action for sure!"

and it's great - it starts off great and it continues to be great the whole way through. need more details than me mumbling "great" through a mouthful of cookies? fine.

this one makes with the action right away, in an opening scene revealing lila in a perilous situation, and loving every minute of it. kell was the primary focus in the first book, but here, lila has sidled her scrawny ass into the limelight and she's not giving it up for anything. kell and rhy will get their POV-time, but lila steals the show, as well as everything else that isn't nailed down.

there's just something about her i love. sure, she's the archetypal badass chick whose hardscrabble background has taught her that no one's coming to her rescue, emotions are liabilities, and knives are wonderfully persuasive, which tough-girl attitude should be totally cheesy:

Tieran fixed her with his gaze. "Has anyone ever told you that you're too sharp for your own good?"

"Too sharp. Too loud. Too reckless. I've heard it all. It's a wonder I'm still alive."

but for some reason, i just adore her. with her wolfish smile and her terrible decisions and her knack for getting into and out of danger, everything she's done to leave behind her unsatisfyingly grey life and launch herself into a world of magic and adventure - she's neither infallible nor completely guarded, and there's a perfect balance to her character - she's able to walk away from someone without looking back, but she'll still daydream a little.

and she gives herself awesome daenerys-caliber pep talks:


A chorus of doubt so loud her boots took a step back of their own accord.

In one of the other stadiums, the crowds cheered as an Arnesian emerged victorious.

Lila retreated another step.

And then she caught sight of the flag - her flag - in the stands, and her steps ground to a halt.

I am Delilah Bard, she thought. Pirate, thief, magician.

Her fingertips began to thrum.

I have crossed worlds and taken ships. Fought queens and saved cities.

Her bones shuddered and her blood raced.

I am one of a kind.

she definitely is one of a kind

lila aside, there are excellent developments in the rest of the world. that thing kell did in the last book for rhy has consequences both physical and psychological, and has caused a great deal of tension in his relationship with the king and queen. kell spends a lot of this book moping around in a daze of "why are 'mommy' and 'daddy' so mad at me and will i ever see lila again and woe woe woe," until rhy comes up with a wonderful diversion for him, to take his mind off of his emo crap and also relieve a lot of pent-up aggression. (and please tell me there is rhy/kell fanfic out there, because there needs to be, right?)

we also get a better, more focused view of the politics of red london this time around. in the first book, we were bouncing around between the various londons and learning about their relationships with each other, but here we get a more detailed look at red london - its history and the rivalries between the different cultures and lands making up the kingdom, and the intricacies of its power structure, which playboy rhy will one day have to navigate

"Ruling is a delicate affair," his father had chided. "Every gesture carries purpose and meaning. This tournament is not only a game. It helps to maintain peace with our neighboring empires, and it allows us to show them our resources without implying any threat. The king had laced his fingers. "Politics is a dance until the moment it becomes a war. And we control the music."

the tournament itself is fun, but lower-stakes than i had anticipated. this isn't The Hunger Games or Battle Royale; it's more diplomatic; it's entertainment, and the participants are carefully selected and matched to deliver a good show without killing anyone, like a magical pageant designed by jane austen. however, that careful plan has had a monkeywrench thrown in by a couple of dark horses. and kidnapping. there's always gotta be some kidnapping.

we get a new character in alucard, who - despite that stupid gothy name, is very likable. not so much to kell - there's some history there, but to me. and to lila.

oh, and what will become of lila and kell?? will there be unbearable tension?? will every time they say "hello" read like barely-restrained pornography, like in those very rare moments when felicity lets down her emotional guard on The Americans and a touch of the hand comes across as unspeakably intimate? will lila finally find a dress to wear?

"What's wrong with black? It's the perfect color."

"For hiding. For blending into shadows. For storming castles. Not for balls. I let you go to the last one in black, and it has bothered me all winter."

"If that's true, you don't have enough things to worry about."

Calla tsked and turned toward the collection of dresses. Lila's gaze raked over them, and she cringed at a yolk-yellow skirt, a velvety purple sleeve. They looked like pieces of ripe fruit, like decadent desserts. Lila wanted to look powerful, not edible.

woe to the person who tries. this is a girl with many knives strapped on under her gowns.

while all this is taking place in red london, we get some hints of what's been happening in white london since the events of the last book. trouble is a-brewing. this book ends on a corker of a cliffhanger, and i'm so glad i kept on with this series, because i am eager to see what happens in book three.

bring it on!

this one is SO MUCH better than the first book. what a relief! thanks for making me stick with it, machalo buddies!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Samantha.
417 reviews16.7k followers
April 14, 2017
2.5 - Barely anything happened in this book. There didn't need to be a full book to set up the little bit that happened at the end. 2.5 stars because it's neutral. Not horrible (I liked the new characters) but it felt like a waste mostly. Video review to come.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
530 reviews34.5k followers
January 12, 2022
I’m on BookTube now! =)

”People could only hurt you if you cared enough to let them.”

I think this quote describes the vibe of the book in a nutshell. “A Gathering of Shadows” is all about the characters and their strong feelings for each other. Sometimes those feelings get in the way and make it impossible to grow and to be who they truly are and sometimes those feelings help them to realize what is important. At times to read this book felt like you’re staunching a wound and no matter what you do, it always starts to bleed anew.

The repercussions of what happened in the finale of “A Darker Shade of Magic” are perceptible in every single word of the story and I was hurting with the characters so much it wasn’t normal anymore. While Rhy and Kell are trying their best to ignore what happened to them, while they try to come to terms with their changed reality and their place in the grand scheme of things, Lila and Alucard are just trying to have the time of their lives. And I was thankful for it, because the Lila/Alucard Duo was a really good counterweight to Rhy and Kell.

As for the third plot line... gosh I was so anxious about what would happen. The knowledge that there was a new force at work in White London had me all kinds of worried and it felt like a looming presence above my head. Do you know the expression: “It hangs like a sword of Damocles above/over sth”? Well, I think that about nails the overall feeling of dread I experienced while reading the book. >_< This said I think I’ll head to my characters section now because I need to get rid of a lot of thoughts and they’ll be spoilery so consider yourself warned! ;-)

The characters:

Welcome to Red London! If you have magic running through your veins I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Essen Tasch! The finest of our finest will duel each other and not everyone is going to survive the spoilery fun! Tread carefully and try to stay out of trouble. The spoilers? Well, if you continue to read they’ll find you anyway.


”People survived by being cautious, but they got ahead by being bold.”

I guess I got the answer to my question: Lila became a pirate, indeed. *lol* I personally liked her more in this book because she finally opened up and we got a good glimpse at her true personality. In the first book I could never get a grasp of her but this time around we were finally allowed to dive a little bit deeper into her personality. She doesn’t like to let anyone in because she is scared of her own feelings, but despite all her cool exterior and bravado she cares a lot about the people she spends her time with. Alucard and his crew grew on her and Rhy and Kell seem to own a special place in her heart as well. Lila’s determination to do whatever she wants is something I totally admire about her. She sets her eyes on a goal and she doesn’t cave until she made it. Her participation in the Essen Tasch was very reckless but I guess she’s one of those people that need to test their own limits and strength. And truth be told, if I would discover magic in myself I’d want to test and try it out too. *lol*I mean, who wouldn’t? ;-P

”Lila was a quick study, and she knew how to keep up a front; but behind the mask of disinterest, she took in everything. She was a sponge, soaking up the words and customs, training herself to see something once and be able to pretend she’d seen it a dozen – a hundred – times before.”

”She wanted to push away from the table and walk out, walk away, break the cords that tied her to this ship and this crew and this life, and start over. Whenever she felt the weight of those bonds, she wished she could take her sharpest knife and cut them free, carve out the part of her that wanted, that cared, that warmed at the feeling of Alucard’s hand on her shoulder, Tav’s smile, Stross’s nod.”

”The thing about freedom, Kell? It doesn’t come naturally. Almost no one has it handed to them. I’m free because I fought for it. You’re supposed to be the most powerful magician in all the worlds. If you don’t want to be here, then go.”


” The truth was, Kell’s blood pulsed with a restless beat, while the thing that coursed within it longed for activity. Something had been roused in him, and it didn’t seem intent on going back to sleep.”

Okay, my hope that things would get better for Kell in “A Gathering of Shadows” was crushed the moment I first read his POV. My poor red-head suffered even more than he did in the first book and most of it was due to his connection with Rhy and the behaviour of his “parents”. I hated that they treated him like a criminal and even though I understood that they wanted to keep Rhy save I still detested them for the way they treated Kell. The fact that he could feel each and every single one of Rhy’s emotions and his pain certainly didn’t help to make him feel better and his slow but gradual suffocation was noticeable throughout the entire book. I bled with Kell and I could understand his need to be free. His entire life turned bitter and he realized that he was never truly a part of the Maresh family and only a means to an end. And then this horrible ending!!! ARGH!!! As if he hadn’t suffered enough already! I really hope my boy will be safe in the next book and that Lila will be able to rescue him.

”But that was the thing. Kell would never be free. No matter how far he fled. He’d given up freedom with is life, when he handed it to Rhy.”

”Rhy had always been fickle, but now Kell felt his brother’s ever-shifting temperament, the constant oscillation, and it was maddening. Space meant nothing. They could be standing side by side or Londons apart. There was no escape.
More and more, the bond felt like a chain.”


”He could feel it, whatever it was, hovering in the air around him, waiting until the sun went down and the world got quiet. Quiet enough to think. Thoughts, those were the waiting things, and once they started up, he couldn’t seem to silence them.
Saints, how he tried.”

You know, I’m kinda sad I never got to see more of the carefree and funny Rhy because the ending of “A Darker Shade of Magic” obviously left its traces on his personality as well. The Rhy in this book was very serious and haunted by his past. Then again I suppose to die and to come back to life will do that to a person. His life force is bound to Kell and what one of them does is felt by the other so it’s no wonder the Rhy in this book was more mature and intense. He feels responsible for everything that happened to his people and Kell and he just can’t seem to be able to live with what he did. I really hope someone is going to tell him that it wasn’t his fault and that him wanting to be a better prince and worthy was the thing that caused him to use the necklace. His fault wasn’t to fall for Holland’s trick because he wanted to be stronger; his fault was to try to please his parents and to think that the power he already has wouldn’t be enough. All that self-hatred... it will destroy him from the inside out. I really hope someone (hopefully Alucard) will be able to get through to him.

”Kell. My greatest fear in life isn’t dying. It’s being the source of someone else’s suffering. I know you feel trapped. I know I’m your cage. And I can’t –“ His voice broke, and Kell could feel his brother’s pain, everything he tried to smother until dark and drown until morning. “You will do this,” said Rhy. “For me. For both of us.”

”Every day. I wake up wanting to be a stronger person. A better prince. A worthy king. That want, it’s like a fire in my chest. And then, there are these moments, these horrible, icy moments when I remember what I did ...” His hand drifted to his heart. “To myself. To you. To my kingdom. And it hurts...” His voice trembled. “More than dying ever did. There are days when I don’t feel like I deserve this.”

”He’d always envied his brother’s strength.
And now, in a horrible way, it was his.
He was immortal.
And he hated it.
And he hated that he hated it. Hated that he’d become the thing he never wanted to be, a burden to his brother, a source of pain and suffering, a prison. Hated that if he’d had a choice, he would have said no. Hated that he was grateful he hadn’t had a choice, because he wanted to live, even if he didn’t deserve to.”

The relationships & ships:

Lila & Kell:

”Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Be quiet.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”
“We weren’t courting,” snapped Kell. “In case you forgot, she left.”

I really like those two and I definitely want more of them! I mean their kiss was ... for lack of a better word hot and I think we deserve to see more of this ship. It’s a really slow burn but I actually like that about it. It probably comes with the nature of both of them. While Kell is all restraint and the brooding kind of type, Lila is all recklessness and bravado. Their personalities are quite a contrast but we all know opposites attract. ;-P I guess before we can find out if their ship is going to work out Lila will have to save her man first though! And I really hope she’ll do it fast because my boys are suffering and I need them to survive this!!! T_T

”They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. This kiss as Lila pressed into a single gesture. Her brazen pride and her stubborn resolve, her recklessness and her daring and her hunger for freedom. It was all those things, and it took Kell’s breath away.”

Rhy & Kell:

To his surprise, Rhy shot him a scowl. “I’m invested in my kingdom, Brother,” he snapped. “You should be, too.”
“I’m not their prince,” observed Kell. He was in no mood for Rhy’s attitude. “I’m just the one who has to clean up his messes.”

I love their brotherly bond so much but it definitely suffered in this book. Both of them didn’t know how to cope with the situation they found themselves in and both of them tried to atone for what they did in their own way. I wish they would have done it together, that they would have addressed all those things that stood between them more directly. Their relationship was so strained and it hurt to see them together. They were both bleeding and I think the only ones who could stop it are Kell and Rhy themselves. I really hope they’ll talk it out in the last book and that their relationship will be more relaxed again. I mean yes, their fate is bound together but if they are on the same page they could do so many great things. I want them to find peace in the next book and I genuinely hope they will.

”These days, Rhy always seemed to be the source of Kell’s suffering, while Kell himself walked around as if the world were suddenly made of glass, all because of Rhy. It wasn’t even in the end, wasn’t balanced, wasn’t fair. Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.”

”Kell.” Rhy sat forward, elbows on his knees. “I was dead.”
The words hung in the air between them.
“I was dead,” he said again, “and you brought me back. You have already given me something I shouldn’t have.” A shadow flashed across his face when he said it, there and then gone. “If it were lost again,” he went on, “I would still have lived twice. This is all borrowed.”

Alucard & Rhy:

Rhy turned to say something, but Alucard’s mouth was already there on his. Hands tangled in hair, clutched at coats. They were a collision, spurred by the force of three years apart.
“You missed me,” said Alucard. It was not a question, but there was a confession in it, because everything about Alucard – the tension in his back, the ways his hips pressed into Rhy’s, the race of his heart and the tremor of his voice – said that the missing had been mutal.

Now that came as a surprise! I knew there was something between them by the way they acted around each other but woah their romance totally caught me off guard. I guess this is mostly due to the fact that Alucard is a newly introduced character and that we didn’t know much about his past before his ship docked at London. I’m all aboard the Rhylucard/Alurhy?! ship though so please let more of those scenes come way! *lol* It’s so obvious Alucard is totally besotted with Rhy and I’m ready to see more of Rhy’s true feelings for the rakish captain as well. More, please?! XD

Alucard & Lila:

”There was a measure of theatre to everything Alucard did. She wondered how many other parts he could play. Wondered which, if any, were not a part, but the actor beneath.”

”Lila really should have killed him, back when they first met. Back before she could know him. Back before she could like him so much.”

I’m a huge fan of their friendship and I think they should continue to be just friends. Not gonna lie, the chemistry between them was amazing but they are both too reckless and probably would get each other killed. Their flame would burn bright and then blow out. *lol* I can’t blame Lila for giving into Alucard’s advances though. I mean that man is a really nice package! ;-P A deceitful and cunning package but a nice package nevertheless. XD

”Tell me,” he whispered, “was that better than winning a bet?”
She was breathless. “You make a valid argument.”
“I’d love to press the point,” he said, “but first ...” He cleared his throat, and looked down at the knife she had resting against the inside of his leg.
“Reflex,” she said with a smirk, returning the weapon to its sheath.”

Lila & Rhy:

Lila’s expression hardened. “Whatever he feels for me, it isn’t love.”
“Because it isn’t soft and sweet and doting?” Rhy rocked back, stretching against the pillar. “Do you know how many times he’s nearly beat me senseless out of love? How many times I’ve done the same? I’ve seen the way he looks at those he hates...” He shook his head. “There are very few things my brother cares about, and even fewer people.”

The bond between those two surprised me as well. Lila and Rhy really seem to care about each other and I loved their tiny interactions. I’m glad Rhy kind of seems to function as a translator between Kell and Lila because I think otherwise those two would always talk past each other. XD Also can we appreciate how Lila’s first reaction, when she saw an upset Rhy, was to ask him who she needed to kill? I loved this so much because ARGH! Coming from Lila this means the world! <33 Lila and Rhy give me a Blue and Ronan vibe and I’m so here for it! I can’t wait to see more of their interactions in the next book and I hope there will be many.

He ducked his head and let out a shuddering sigh. Lila hesitated. She knew she should probably bow, kiss his hand, or swoon – at the very least explain what she was doing there, in the private palace halls, as close to the prison as anyone would let her – but instead she flicked her fingers, producing a small blade. “Who do I need to kill?”
Rhy let out a stifled sound, half sob, half laugh, and sank onto his haunches, still gripping the wooden edge of the table.”

The King & Queen and Kell:

Kell swallowed. “Will they never forgive me?”
“Which would you rather have? Their forgiveness, or Rhy’s life?”
“I shouldn’t have to choose,” he snapped.

I absolutely hated Rhy’s parents in this. His mum didn’t do anything and King Maxim was so unfair to Kell that I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. I think Kell suffered enough and he did it all to save their son because Rhy got himself into a sticky situation that almost killed him. How is that Kell’s fault? They can blame him for dark magic finding its way into their kingdom and for being a smuggler but they can’t blame him for saving their son’s life. The Dane Twins plot would have fruited no matter what Kell did. It wasn’t his fault that Rhy felt a need to be stronger for his people. Plus Holland could have easily caused trouble without involving Kell. After all he’s an Antari too and can travel between the worlds. If King Maxim would have been fair to Kell and would have trusted him the ending of this book would have never happened. So everything that happens now is on him. I hope he’ll realize this before everything goes to hell. >_<

He stilled. “No. But we both know this isn’t about what’s good for me.”
“You’re right. It’s about what’s good for our kingdom. And if you are loyal to this crown, and to this family, you will confine yourself to this palace until the tournament is over. Am I understood?”

”I can’t keep atoning,” Kell whispered into the king’s shoulder. “I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”


I really enjoyed “A Gathering of Shadows” and I can’t wait to read the last book of the series. Since the Essen Tasch was a huge part of this story I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Jay Kristoff’s “Godsgrave” though. Both books were the second book of a series and focused on a deadly tournament while the main plot was still running in the background. My weird brain is probably the only one that saw those similarities... Anyway! I absolutely loved the world and the characters Schwab created and I’m very curious where this series will end. I’m definitely more than just willing to find out. ;-)


Who wants to go on a journey with me and find out what Lila and Kell are up to?!

It’s been over a year I read the first book and by now my curiosity has reached its peak. *lol*
Plus I put this on ”My July TBR” video and whenever I put something on my monthly TBR and capture my promise on video I need to keep that promise.
Surprisingly it worked so far! XD

This said: Are you ready for the ride?! Because I sure am! ;-)
"A Gathering of Shadows" here I come.
757 reviews2,346 followers
July 30, 2018
Edit: oh my god what the fuck was I thinking a year ago writing this review. I have issues




I’m not even kidding when I say this book pissed me off to the point where I physically felt the need to rip the goddamn fucking pages and fucking burn them and throw this fucking book out the goddamn window with every ounce of strength I've fucking got. I !! was !! so !! fucking !! pissed !! I !! still !! am !! when !! I !! think !! about !! this !! fucking !! garbage !! of !! a !! book !! and !! LILA BARD THE FUCKFACE GARBAGE CAN

This book is really fucking slow and boring.
I loved ADSoM because of the slow pacing, no romance, badassery, and *barfs a little* Lila Bard. I was okay with the slow buildup in ADSoM and I enjoyed it so much, BUT THIS FUCKING BOOK was soo fucking slow, boring, and just plain dull from the moment I started it and it literally made me want to cut my fucking eyeballs out because IT WAS SO BORING. Reading this fucking book was like watching paint dry and LET ME TELL YOU THAT I'D RATHER FUCKING WATCH PAINT DRY.

Lila fucking Bard
●I. Fucking. Hate. Her. So. Much.
●I want this bitch to choke on Kell's dick.
●she is such an infuriating bitch.
●she is really fucking dumb.
●sHE knew nothing about the magic, but she goes around acting like a little miss know it all.


-and what the fuck was that ending. lmao i want holland to kill kell and lila okay bye.
no srsly that ending pissed me off AHHAAHAHAHA WHAT The FUCK KELL IS SUCH A DUMB FUCKING IDIOT WHY THE FUCK WOULD HE ACT SO DUMB??? like, fucking Holland and that face fucking king need to fucking chill AND STOP BEING FUCKFACES AGSKAOWGSIDBALSIEV I stg I was gonna fucking scream when that old spirit shit and holland tortured kell LIKE U FUCK FACES

*and alsooooo RHY AND ALUCARD ARE LITERALLY EVERYTHING I LOVE THEM BUT it is implied that Alucard has hurt my precious Rhy in the past and I'm not okay with that. ALUCARD GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.


Fuck this book.

No seriously.




Buddy read with The person who rated Lockwood and Co. THREE STARS.


I'm here for Lila, Kell, and Rhy SCHWAB PLS LET MY KIDS LIVE THANK YOU
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,892 followers
July 19, 2016
Wowowowow. If you have not picked up this series yet, pick it up now. Right now.

I feel I can't even put into words how I feel about this book - but I'm going to try anyway.

To start, I liked "A Darker Shade of Magic" (book #1 in this series) a lot - but I wasn't out of my mind in love. I liked the characters and the world building was so unique and engaging. The story was good- but it left me wanting more to happen to the characters (which was perfect, because I knew there was a sequel coming out.) And I'm not gonna lie... I wanted a spark between Kell and Lila. Sorry not sorry.

This book took the story to a new level. I mean- I was totally mind blown.

There are so many good points to hit on. Action. Magic. Pirates. Balls. Masks. Competitions. Serious chemistry. Yes you read that right. Chemistry.


Just to break it down a little bit though...

Lila = Extreme badass extraordinaire. Heavens I love this girl.
Kell = Pretty much a saint. I can't explain it.. he's just wonderful, and tormented, and wonderful...
Alucard = I can't pinpoint him, and I LOVE that.
Rhy = King of banter... and of aggravating the living shit out of Kell in the most wonderful ways
The villian who shall remain unnamed for now = BETCHA DIDNT SEE THAT COMING.

The characters are so beautifully woven together. The plot is absolutely fantastically and horribly unpredictable. Oh and the writing - oh it was superb. Beautiful in every way.

“Politics is a dance until the moment it becomes a war. And we control the music.”

Now I want to prepare you, my fellow readers. Lila and Kell are apart for a very good chunk of this book. BUT I PROMISE it is well worth the agony of seeing them apart. SO so so so so worth it. Just you wait. Plus, there are so many great moments in their separate paths before they reunite.

“I know it’s mad, but for a second I thought it was …”
"Saints, you’re seeing her in everyone and everything now, Kell? There’s a word for that.”

I refuse to discuss the ending right now. I refuse. But I promise you this- there are some very fulfilling moments before the ending.

Superb. New favorite series. Now go read it so we can talk about it more because I am not satisfied with only writing a blog post!

*Update* Can we please just rave about how this series is about to get a TV SERIES?!?!?!?!?!
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,327 followers
January 3, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

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

🌟 I respect Schwab’s ability to excel in all components of the stories in her books. This Savage Song had a great plot, Vicious was all about the characters, City of Ghosts is an all round book for younger readers and this series has amazing world-building.

🌟 After enjoying the first book and everyone hyping this book for me and saying it gets better I got so excited! I thought that I was going to read my next 5 stars book but I just didn’t! Victoria is one of my favorite authors but something was missing in this book and I know exactly what it was!

🌟 To be honest, nothing was missing and that is the problem. It was overstuffed with too much details and the thing I wanted to be better was the plot. The plot was slow and not much was happening till part 4 and then I thought it would get better now, it was slightly better but once again I wanted more and that didn’t happen till the last 150 Pages. I felt that this book could have been easily 250 pages instead of 500!!

🌟 I still think the world building is cool and I enjoy it and how it expands. The characters are also very unique and memorable. I like Kell, Lila and most importantly Holland whose chapters were the best!

🌟 Summary: I think the book was good but I expected more action and a faster pacing! It still has great characters and amazing world-building but the plot was lacking. I hope the last book redeems this one and is better. I am giving this one 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Beth.
700 reviews571 followers
January 24, 2018
2.5 Stars.

My initial thoughts going into this book... I quite liked A Darker Shade of Magic, well this is now 508 pages, this is going to be long, but it has a 4.32 average on goodreads so it must be good right?! Oh you fool Beth.

Where do I even begin with this? If you love this book I’d suggest you don’t read this because I honestly couldn’t stand it. I don’t think I’ve been so let down by a second book in a series since Glass Sword, and we all know how that went. I just don’t understand how it went from good, to bad? Characters I liked I now cannot stand, but we will get to that later.

What is the second book about? Well there’s a trial, and other characters are introduced, but seriously. I didn’t start this book for a bit because this is 508 pages. What happened in those 508 pages? Well let me tell you this, for the first 300 pages NOTHING HAPPENED! Why on earth did it take so long for something… ANYTHING to happen?! I honestly just can’t. I thought oooh we will get to see training, see other things happen, but WAIT it took 375 pages for us to get a glimpse into Lila’s training, and even then it was about a page and a half. I seriously went into this with high hopes, and I came away thinking I’ve read 300 pages of filler, 100 pages of Trials, 50 pages of filler and then 58 pages of tension. Even then there wasn't enough of the trials to be fun/engaging.

Can I just also point out that this is supposed to be magical and have four Londons to me that is a selling point and unique, so why on earth did we only really see Red London? It really really annoys me that we get slight, and very small glimpses into the other Londons. I’m just so meh about it all.


Firstly we have Kell now don’t get me wrong, I still really like Kell as a character, and at times I felt so sorry for him, but he was tiptoeing around everything and didn’t want to hurt Rhy. He is supposed to be one of if not THE most powerful magician, and we didn’t really see that. I love how much he cares for Rhy, I really do, but he can’t stop living his life when Rhy does as he pleases anyway.

Then we have Lila. My god. I was just so infuriated by her throughout the entirety of the book. She’s a know it all who won’t listen to what others tell her. How long has she been part of the magic world? 4 months, yet she just thinks she knows everything. I love sarcastic characters, I really do. However this time around, I honestly was so done with her and had, had enough of it all. My issues are, how did she become pretty fluent in a language she didn’t know 4 months ago, why does she think she’s better than everyone else. If I hear one more time “I’m not like other/most girls” so help me god. What is “other/most girls” EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. You are not under any circumstances a precious snowflake. (Thanks Katie!)

Alucard… I don’t even know if I’ve spelt his name right, but what was the point in his character other than to flirt and to be someone part of the trials?

We do not, I repeat DO NOT get enough of Holland the one character who is mysterious we get nothing on.

So… hmmmm what did I actually like?
- The mystery to Ojka
- A teeny tiny glimpse into Black London, and this other thing in it, I have no idea what it’s called
- Rhy choosing Kells flag, and asking if it should of been a black eye (it made me laugh okay, I needed something)
- The bloody cliffhanger, okay I can’t deny it.

What I didn’t like?
- Pretty much 80% of the book.
- Why did Lila annoy me so much in this book, my eye feels like it’s going to start twitching with rage
- Everything pretty much above.

Overall, severely let down by this one, for me it had the second book syndrome and I’m jus like right, how do I get my life back now? I’m going to finish the final book in the series and hope it’s better than this one.

Yeah, I am salty AF right now, it can’t be helped. May add to this rant later...

A Darker Shade of Magic - 4 Stars
A Gathering of Shadows - 2.5 Stars
Profile Image for the burning dreamer..
266 reviews548 followers
March 20, 2017

Remember when I called A Darker Shade of Magic a slow-burner? HA. Well. This one just burns you alive and makes you enjoy every fiery second of it. WHAT A RIDE.

I'm far too impatient to get on with the next book, so here's a random assortment of my thoughts and feelings on this glorious work of new adult literature...

(((kindasorta spoilers incoming)))

Things I thought I wouldn't like:

• Lila and Kell being separated for the most part
• New major characters aka Alucard Emery
• The descriptive writing style and pace
• Scenes in White London

Things I liked:

• Lila and Kell being separated for the most part
• New major characters aka Alucard Emery
• The descriptive writing style and pace
• Scenes in White London

It's amazing really. Waiting for the release of A Conjuring of Light wasn't the only thing that held me back from starting this ages ago— oh no, it was knowing that Kell and Lila wouldn't actually be seeing each other for the better part of the book that takes all the credit for that.

And yet here I am, loving this sequel so much more quite possibly just because of that. It's not that I didn't miss or crave our favorite duo's crazy adventures together again, just as much as they probably must have themselves. (In fact, V Schwab better have a whole lotta that in store for us next!) But as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder and the same is true for my fickle reader's heart. Because when the time finally comes for them to reunite, it's not with a crackle, not with a sizzle, but with a BANG. If this were Instagram, this would be about an appropriate time to implement the use of the #worthit hashtag.

And don't even get me started on the charming bastard of a pirat—*cough* privateer that goes by the name of one Alucard Emery.



Here's a little something to help show how I feel about our newly sailed ship:


And here's reasons to love Lila 101:


There's no need to supply reasons to love Kell because that's simply a universal fact, of course. (FIGHT ME ON THIS I DARE YOU)

Bonus fan art because they're just really fucking cool and beautiful and a million hugs and kisses to the artists that created them whoever you wonderful humans are:






All I can say is V. E. Schwab's writing goes beyond measure for me this time round and I am sold by her compelling storytelling style. Sign me up for anything this woman writes!
Profile Image for Anne.
3,917 reviews69.3k followers
September 21, 2016
So the 1st book, A Darker Shade of Magic, didn't blow me away. I liked it, but I just didn't quite love it.
Interested, but not invested.
Which means I didn't rush out to grab a copy of this one, because I just wasn't sure how excited I actually was to read it.


However, my trepidation was unwarranted. A Gathering of Shadows was so much better than I expected it to be! There was this whole connection to the characters that (I felt) was missing from the 1st book, and this time around the author made me feel...more?


Plus, (and I love it when a book does this) I caught myself saying stuff out loud while I was reading.
Like: Oh, shit! and I thought he was dead!
Good stuff.


Oh, and there were a lot of new developments, cool reveals, and (of course) answers-to-questions-that-just-lead-to-more-questions. Very EXCITING!
Sadly, I'm so late to this party, and there are so many fantastic reviews up already that I don't feel the need to waste your (very valuable, I'm sure) time re-hashing the plot.
I will say I think this one is worth your time, even if you weren't a huge fan of book #1.

Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews714 followers
February 13, 2020
I found the second book to be better than the first honestly, it's pacing was a lot better and the tension built all way to the end so that I felt like bursting when I finished the book and it left off where it did. Also I really liked seeing Lila soften up a little and get a less controlled version of Kell. I know there's been a lot of hype around the books so people end up not liking it as much because of their expectations but I think if you go into without expectations I think it makes it way easier to appreciate the books. The characters have depth and while the idea of magic or controlling the elements might not be unique it's well executed. For me fiction is at its best when it helps me forget myself and both the first book and this one really drew me in so personally I'm in the camp with everyone who loved them.
Profile Image for Clara.
132 reviews171 followers
October 1, 2016
** 5+++ "I’M OBSESSED AND IN AWE" !! stars **

It’s official, this series now has a hold on me and it won’t let go. I’m in love with the writing, the world and the characters ! This series has definitely made it to the top of my all-time favorite series with this second installment ! It’s been a while since I absolutely loved everything about a series or felt so invested, but I have to say these books gave me everything I’m looking for when I read a book !
First off, let’s be honest, this second installment didn’t have much of a plot like the first one had with the whole getting rid of the Black Stone and fighting off the Dane Twins. Nothing much happened for the two thirds of the book, and we only got a glimpse of the heavy stuff finally happening only at the very end of the book. BUT, I didn’t care, because the author still managed to have me engrossed the whole time ! With this second book, Schwab decided to focus on her characters : their well-done development, their complexity, their struggles against their own demons, the dynamics as well as the relationships between all of them, creating the feeling as if we were close to them, as if we deeply knew them up to their darkest secrets and feelings, making us care about them to the point where I was scared all the time for my babies and couldn’t bear the thought of any of them getting hurt.
”Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know ? But I don’t want to die- dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were doing before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”

Obviously, the world-building still played a huge part in my loving this second book so much. It was still just as amazing, well thought-out and mesmerizing. The magic system still has me awed with how detailed it is, how it has a darkness to it making it fascinating. But Schwab made it even more badass and epic by opening the borders of her world beyond Red London and Arnes to introduce us to pirates, oops, sorry, I meant “privateers” ;D as well as the people from other Empires, this only accented more by the Element Games that brought action and even more diversity to the world (I couldn’t help but picture the Olympic Games that just ended when thinking about the Element Games, I guess it was just because of the mood ^^).
The storyline in this one was more slow-paced but very subtle, smoothly and cleverly leading you to where the author wanted to get you the whole time. Once again, even though there wasn’t a lot of action for most of the book, I never found myself bored, just entranced by the characters and their journey.

Speaking of the characters , there’s basically not one I didn’t absolutely love !
If that was even possible, I fell more in love with KELL. In this one, he no longer feels like a possession to the Red London’s Royal family but more like a prisoner. No one, except for Rhy, trusts him anymore, everyone fears or hates him, blaming him for the Black Night. Kell feels out of place and for the first time actually considers just running away, but he can’t bring himself to leave his brother behind. I felt Kell’s loneliness and the unfairness of his treatment, I just wanted to hug him and tell him that I would never turn my back on him and that I’ll always love him ^^
RHY also managed to win me over ! I loved his cockiness, how he always seems cheerful, always ready to party and flirt. He also had kind of a childish side to him that just made him a sweetheart and melt my heart. But behind all that façade, Rhy had demons of his own, not bearing what he did in the previous book and his brother’s suffering because of him and trying his best to make it better for Kell. I loved their bromance which was much more developed in this second book. Kell and Rhy had an easy banter, always looking out for the other, they’re a real team, it’s like it’s them against everyone else, and it just made my heart burst with love for them both.
”What brings you to my room ?” Kell 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.”

LILA was still badass, reckless, restless, always looking for trouble, trying her hardest not to care too much about her crew or Kell, but realizing she can’t help it. Lila and Kell were apart for most of the book, but once they finally came back together, I felt like it was totally worth the wait. Their relationship slowly takes a deeper meaning, with both of them having missed the other one and understanding the other’s loneliness and thirst for freedom and thrills. I also very much liked Lila’s relationship with Alucard, which felt more like a master/student or big brother/little sister relationship. They had great banter, both of them being stubborn, I loved how Alucard was always there to look out for Lila even if she didn’t need it, trying to get secrets out of her but at the same time helping her with her magic.
ALUCARD was a great addition to the story, he was a cocky and witty Captain, very skilled and badass with magic, but also wise and he had an air of superiority. And that thing with Rhy, totally unexpected but absolutely loved it !
”You’re still mad at me,” Alucard said.
Lila straightened. “You tried to seduce me, for information.”
“You can’t hold that against me forever.”
“It was last night.”
“Well, I was running out of options, and I figured it was worth a shot.”
Lila rolled her eyes. “You really know how to make a girl feel special.”
“I thought I was in trouble precisely for making you feel special.”

But that ending though ?! I can’t, I need book 3 RIGHT now !! I hope everything will be okay for my babies !! ^_^
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