Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: 5 stars
“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.”
If the finale is as good as the first two books were, then this is going to end up being one of my top series of all time. I can’t find anything wrong with it! The characters all stand out, each book has been just different enough to stay interesting while still following the same path, and the concept of having more than one worlds adds that extra element the story needed to stand out. I almost forgot to write this review because I was so anxious to move on to the next installment!
– Pirates that have a pet cat on their ship (bonus: she’s super adorable and is white with purple eyes!)
– a tournament of magic with floating arenas and competitors with elaborate masks and secret identities
– amazing characters, plenty of twists and turns, and a super solid magic system that’s fun to watch the characters use and figure out
Lila mentioned wanting to be a pirate and have her own ship in A Darker Shade of Magic, but we never really got to see her act on any of that. In A Gathering of Shadows, we finally get to see the pirate side of Lila, and we get to watch her get herself in and out of all kinds of binds and tricky situations. I enjoyed Lila as a character in the previous book, but she really stood out for me in this one. Her resistance to having friends and trusting people isn’t something I can relate to, but it was a big part of her and something she had to deal with along the way, and it was interesting to see what decisions she made because of this trait.
There was that one word, lodged in her skin like a splinter.
But she was restless.
But she wanted a thrill.
But it would be a challenge.
And when it came to magic, Lila wasn’t just a quick study. She was a natural.
Master Tieren had told her months ago that something powerful lay inside her, waiting to be woken. Well, Lila had poked it with a stick, and it was wide awake—a living, humming thing as restless as she was.
And restlessness had always made her reckless.”
It was great getting to see more of the friendship between Kell and Rhy in this installment. They didn’t spend as much time together in the previous book, but they spent plenty of time together in this one, and there were even chapters from Rhy’s perspective. Their friendship wasn’t perfect, and they definitely had their struggles, but ultimately they were there for each other and were able to help each other grow and figure out who they wanted to be. I may have missed something, but originally I thought that if Kell died Rhy would die and if Rhy died Kell would die, but the condition is actually that Rhy can’t die unless Kell does, and this added a whole new dynamic to the story that really messed with both characters.
The author introduces a number of new characters, and brought back some old ones, so it was interesting to see how they all interacted with each other and how they changed individually. This book has loads of great dialog, and I found myself laughing at the banter often. From Rhy having one of his lovers dress up and pretend to be Kell as a cover (“Stop,” said Kell. “Please. I don’t want to hear about your romantic interludes with the man currently posing as me.” “Don’t be obscene. I haven’t been with him since he agreed to take up this particular role. And that right there is a testament to my respect for you.”) to Lila and Alucard’s cat and mouse game of keeping secrets, it’s full of funny little moments that made the story that much more enjoyable.
“You’re still mad at me.”
She straightened. “You tried to seduce me, for information.”
“You can’t hold that against me forever.”
“It was last night.”
Most of the story focuses on the tournament of magic and the events surrounding it. There isn’t an in-your-face evil (although the villain is present in the background), and the obstacles the characters face are on the smaller side. Normally I think this would have slowed the story’s pace down, but I never found myself disinterested at all. I like these characters and reading about them and the situations they get themselves into, and the author’s style of writing makes it easy to visualize everything as you’re reading it. The danger became MUCH more real towards the end, and the story ramped up toward what I’m sure will be an explosive and satisfying conclusion.