A Gathering of Shadows | Book Review #26

Hey guys! I couldn’t wait to speak about this book, so I wanted to get my thoughts out of my system as soon as possible. On the sad note, I lost all my notes on this one along with the others. I’m still hoping that my cloud has a backup or miraculously retains all my highlights, but that’s highly impossible. Anyway, thanks for putting up with me so far and let’s get to the review.

Oh, before we go the review, I guess some things might be SPOILERS here to those who haven’t read this book, so keep this in your mind before reading the review.

About the Book

Title: A Gathering of Shadows • By: V E Schwab

Published on:  23 Feb 2016 • By: Titan Books

Pace: Medium • Pages: 560 • Age: 15 and up

Series: Shades of Magic #2• Genre: Dark / Adult Fantasy

Song: Armed and Dangerous by Chaos Chaos

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.


Rep: Brown Queer (mc), Black (sc), M/M relationship, Disability

Some books breathe life into me. It’s not like I wasn’t before or anything, but there are some stories that make me feel alive and remind me why I should keep searching and reading them.

When I read A Darker Shade of Magic last December, I never knew that I’d feel so nostalgic about it. I was desperate to go back to that world whilst reading Vicious and TILOALR. I saw traces of Kell and Lila in those books and I had this urge to get back to this world and live in it again; I’d never pass a chance to be part of four different Londons.

The Thief

It was clearly established in the first book that Lila was a thief. Her opening scene in this book was tad dramatic but impactful; speak about dramatic entrances!

In this book, Lila finds her own place in Red London, mostly on the sea. She finds herself on Night Spire and ends up traveling to different ports and shores. Somehow, the sea suited her more than the land. Then one day she hears about Essen Tasch (the Element Games) and she wants to participate in it. In book 1, she had traces of magic in her and that was the reason why she left Red London, to discover who or what she was. Here, she learns to control the elements and wield magic with Alucard’s training and help.

The games were obviously the most entertaining aspect of this book. For the first 150 pages, nothing much happened in the, which dampened my excitement and curiosity; but once the games began, everything progressed faster. I was actually waiting for Lila and Kell’s reunion, which took a long time, but went as anticipated.

Aven Vares (Blessed Prince)

First of all, there was a lot of Arnesian (language of Arnes) used in the book. Last one mostly had spells and very few phrases, but this book had a lot of sentences and conversations included, so that was a bonus.

You get to read a lot about Rhy in this book. He honestly hasn’t recovered from what happend to him 4 months ago (in ADSOM), and he is suffering. But when it comes to Rhy, he masks his pain with alcohol, pleasure and fake smiles. No matter how much he tries to hide his feelings, Kell is aware of it because of the life-bond they share. Reading about these two sharing every emotions together felt like torture. Kell felt smothered and Rhy’s pity party didn’t help.

Kell was blamed by the King and Queen for Rhy’s recklessness. It was unfair and he realizes that. He was confined to the palace and lived like a prisoner.

I terribly missed the Kell who traveled worlds in ADSOM. The difference between book 1 and 2 was that this one wasn’t as bloodier and darker as book 1. Kell was like a kid waiting to be let out to play in the field. He was the most prized and valuable possession of Arnes and felt awfully like a trinket. I felt sorry for him, especially in the last few chapters.

Magical Duel

The element game , without any doubt, was the main highlight of this book. There were magicians across kingdoms partaking in the game and it was exhilarating to see them use their magic and fighting their opponents. They’d use either two or three elements in the fights. No one used bone magic, though it’s part of the 5 elements. Only Antari could use blood magic, so that didn’t change in this one either, as we only had two Antari so far.

Lila’s magic was raw and fledgling. But her thirst for danger never stopped her from taking part in the games. Her game strategies were clever and spontaneous. Without her wits and training, she would have been killed in the first round, but you’d be surprised with how deft she was in the book.


A Gathering of Shadows is outrageously good. This book started off slow but then picked up it’s pace after 30%. It wasn’t as bloody as the first one, but there were a lot of court duties and duels thrown into the mix, making it entertaining as hell. It also solved some of my curiousity and questions about Black London,emphasis on some. This one ends with a cliffhanger which just left me hanging in the edge, which made me pick up the next book.

If you love elemental fantasy, then this book is a treat. Things are about to get exciting in the next one, so stay tuned!

Chaos needs order. Magic needs moderation.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
TW // Self cutting imagery, Self destructive behavior, Possession, Bondage, Murder, Gore, Trauma
About the Author

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”

P.S. I didn’t want to write more about this book without giving out the story, so I cut it short.

Stay safe and have a great day!

Have you read this novel or is it on your TBR? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

“Time is a thief of memory”

— Stephen King

Paperbacktomes Gratitude Pic 2021


  1. Yess, Isha! I couldn’t agree with you more. Victoria Schwab has always been one of my all-time favourite authors, and this series was just exceptionally good.
    I love Rhy and Alucard so much! And the last gets even better. I’m so excited for Threads of Power. 💞

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was worried if Rhy and Alucard wouldn’t get together or someone might die, but I didn’t have to worry about. They were perfect together, and I’m so ready for the next series in this world. Happy reading and have a good day!

      Liked by 1 person

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