Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V. E. Schwab
Published: February 2016
I would recommend reading further only if you have already read A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1).
Summary: Picking up four months after Lila and Kell got rid of the dangerous trinket from Black London, V. E. Schwab offers up a story full of magic and intrigue. In the aftermath of that fateful night when Red London was almost lost and Prince Rhy almost died, Lila is trying to find her place in this new world and Kell is struggling with his new bond to the life of Prince Rhy. Amidst this, Red London is preparing to host the international magic competition, the Element Games, which brings royalty and magicians from two other kingdoms for festivals and competing.
Why I am Recommending: A Darker Shade of Magic ended with a pretty well-wrapped-up conclusion, so I wasn’t sure what would take place in this second installment. I was delighted that the story took us to new locations, introduced us to new characters, and taught us more about the neighboring kingdoms and some of the other Londons’ history. The first half of the book is spent catching up with Lila and Kell. Learning about what they are up to right now and flashing back to what has transpired in the past four months. In true Lila fashion, she left one great, dangerous adventure for another great, dangerous adventure. Her new adventure introduces her to a host of new people and new locales in this world she is trying to figure out. She has a new language to learn, cultural distinctions and traditions that are all foreign to her. Watching her delicately tread all of this and keeping herself safe helped to further illustrate how strong and determined she is. Among the many new things Lila encounters, perhaps my favorite new addition was the character of Alucard Emery. Alucard is a charming, clever, and mysterious character that really gives Lila a run for her money. They have quite a bit in common, including stubbornness and confidence, which creates some entertaining scenes. You also get to learn a bit more about the inner workings of Lila, which includes a very dark side to her personality. Kell, on the other hand, is basically on lock down in the palace now that his life is tied to the crowned prince’s. The bond that Kell and Rhy share has them adjusting to a new normal that doesn’t quite feel comfortable for either one. When the city begins bustling with royalty from other kingdoms and the festivities of the Element Games, insight into other dimensions of this world are exposed, and some political intrigue develops.
This book was such a great addition to this series and made me more invested into the characters and the world. There is so much more that could be explored, especially given much that is unknown about the other Londons. This story is full of magic and great characters, all coming together so beautifully through the fantastic writing of V. E. Schwab. While the first book could have probably stood on its own as a stand-alone book, A Gathering of Shadows, ends on a serious cliffhanger that has me messing up my TBR to get the next one in my hands! I can’t wait to see what happens next and what new parts of this vast world that Schwab will introduce us to in the final installment of the series.