Review: A Gathering of Shadows

Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)

Author: V.E. Schwab

Published: 2016

Type: Hardback book (bought from Barnes & Noble, Science-Fiction)

Favorite Character: Kell, Lila, and Holland

Favorite Quote: “I am one of a kind”

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Read from: 7 January 2018 – 26 March 2018

Summary: It’s been 4 months since the black stone in Kell’s pocket nearly destroyed his world, Red London. 4 months since the ruthless Dane Twins and Holland of White London nearly took over Red London by using the Red London royals as vessels. 4 months since Kell nearly lost his brother, Rhy, and saved him by joining their lives together. 4 months since Lila Bard, wannabe pirate from Grey London, helped Kell save his world before she left without a trace. 4 months since Holland’s body was tossed into Black London to rot.

Now, Red London and its people are trying to heal from White London’s attack while they prepare for the Element Games (Essen Tasch). The games are meant to help Red London keep in good relations with their neighboring countries, and to allow each country to show off their most talented magicians. Prince Rhy organizes the games, but little does he know that the games will bring back the past.

Old and new friends and enemies collide at the Essen Tasch, making the stakes even higher. Kell is stuck thinking about his past choices, Lila, and how he can keep his brother safe. Rhy worries for Kell while he also contemplates what it means to be a future king. Lila learns more about herself as her powers continue to grow – but will they overpower her?

While the Essen Tasch take place, another London is changing. The balance of magic is beginning to shift, and Red London may be too caught up in their games to notice that old foes are back in a way they never anticipated.


“I know where you sleep, Bard.”

She smirked. “Then you know I sleep with knives”

This second installment in the Shades of Magic series  focus more on Lila Bard as she wrecks havoc aboard a ship and in Red London as she finds a way to compete in the Essen Tasch. The second book in a series makes many readers nervous, myself included, but Schwab did not disappoint! Shades of Magic might feature Elemental Magicians and Antari, but Schwab is a World-building Magician with a real talent for character development.

What I really appreciated about this book was that it explored the consequences of the first book, A Darker Shade of Magic. I read a few reviews where readers complained that A Gathering of Shadows had such a different tone and lacked the same adventure as the first book. I agree, the tone was certainly different, but it was a new adventure in itself. This adventure did not rely on as much action or running between worlds, but rather, the characters (Lila, Kell, Rhy, and friends) and how they have been dealing with the repercussions of their precious adventure.

Each character has their own feelings and issues to navigate, proving that none of them were truly unscathed by what happened 4 months ago. I appreciated this fact because it made the characters that much more human and realistic. Kell and Rhy especially went through a great deal that now tests their relationship as brothers. And it is not just them. The King and Queen (Rhy’s parents and Kell’s adopted parents) are making choices to protect one son that harm the other, but they believe what they are doing is for the best. There is an interesting shift in the family’s relationship that hurts a great deal to read, but it is well-written and thoughtful at the same time.

Ignore how long it took me to read this book, as I was slammed with schoolwork and work-work on top of other things. I was barely reading a chapter a day, but now that it’s spring break, I have been able to read more and worry less.

The interesting, weird characters, dynamic world building, and brilliant banter will be enough to draw any reader into the Shades of Magic world. Each character is unique and essential to the plot, which is a fantastic mix of fantasy and a bit of horror.

I am very anxious and excited to pick up the third (and final) book in this series, A Conjuring of Light. 

Overall, this book is wonderful. It is also a great reminder that nothing really ever stays dead.

As for characters like Holland, you may find yourself wondering if it’s wrong to cheer for him. I know I’m in the boat right now.


For fun, here are some of the AGOS characters and how they’re feeling, explained by Gob Bluth:


Love, always,


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