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BOOK REVIEW: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

| 31 March 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Titan Books
February 2016
Paperback, £7.99 GBP
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli




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.

Here is what is so great, so fantastic about V. E. Schwab: she is not scared to write what what she wants to write. A Darker Shade of Magic blew my mind with its intricate world-building and unapologetic badass characters that took what they wanted without fear. It’s not a fantasy series that is steeped in romance and woe-is-me characters terrified of taking the plunge; it’s not long and over-worded in a way that bores the readers to tears. It’s such an interesting series, with such great characters and a plot that is both fast-paced and full of twists, keeping us on our toes every single page.

A Gathering of Shadows is no different. It’s been four months since the black stone landed in Red London, since Kell me Delilah Bard, since Rhy almost died and Kell tied their lives together to save him. Four months since the Dane twins died, and White London fell, and Holland was cast into Black London, also dead.

By all accounts, they should have all lived happily ever after, but it is not so. Ever since their lives were tied together, Rhy’s and Kell’s relationship is under an immense strain, where Kell wants to leave, travel and see the world, but must remain to guard Rhy. Where Rhy wants to be free to do whatever he pleases, but can’t because of Kell. Where Red London looks down on Kell with distrust, and even the royal family, his family, can’t trust him without a handful of guards following him everywhere.


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.

On the other side of the ocean, Delilah Bard is, in comparison, having the time of her life. Aboard a ship with the charming, smooth-talking Alucard Emery and a bunch of merry sailors, Delilah is learning how to master her magic, thanks to Alucard, the captain — and also friend. It’s everything she was hoping for and more — now Lila is truly free to do as she pleases.


She had her eyes on one ship in particular, had been watching, coveting, all day. It was a gorgeous vessel, its hull and masts carved from dark wood and trimmed in silver, its sails shifting from midnight blue to black, depending on the light. A name ran along its hull—Saren Noche—and she would later learn that it meant Night Spire. For now she only knew that she wanted it. But she couldn’t simply storm a fully manned craft and claim it as her own. She was good, but she wasn’t that good. And then there was the grim fact that Lila didn’t technically know how to sail.

Not only that, but Red London is hosting the Elemental Games, a tournament showcasing the most powerful of all magicians. And some of our favourite characters have signed up. Whilst Red London finalises that preparations, though, another London is coming back to life… and another London must fall.


How do you know when the Sarows is coming?
(Is coming is coming is coming aboard)
When the wind dies away but still sings in your ears,
(In your ears in your head in your blood in your bones.)
When the current goes still but the ship, it drifts along,
(Drifts on drifts away drifts alone.)
When the moon and the stars all hide from the dark,
(For the dark is not empty at all at all.)
(For the dark is not empty at all.)
How do you know when the Sarows is coming?
(Is coming is coming is coming aboard)
Why you don’t and you don’t and you won’t see it coming,
(You won’t see it coming at all.)

In true bookworm, fangirling fashion, I ripped through A Gathering of Shadows in just a few short days. I was so happy to be back in Red London with my favourite Antari, thief and prince that I could not wait to see what Schwab served up next. Conclusion: it was completely unexpected and absolutely fantastic.

A Gathering of Shadows was a worthy sequel, full of action, drama, a lot of cross-dressing and character growth that left this reader wanting more. It was interesting to see Kell and Rhy have to deal with the consequences of their decisions; curious to see Alucard Emery’s relationships with both Kell and Rhy, as well as Lila on a completely different level. Schwab is incredibly talented in creating brand new characters and yet making the reader feel as if they have been around since the dawn of time. This series is the sort of series that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

An action-packed adventure full of twists and turns, A Gathering of Shadows is a sequel every fantasy fan must pick up as soon as possible.

(A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in the A Darker Shade of Magic series by V. E. Schwab.)

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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