Book Review | A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab


Genre: YA/NA Fantasy

Publishers: Titan Books

Publication Date: February 23rd 2016

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like 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.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

This book was amazing. My gods! A Gathering of Shadows reminded me of my love for everything fantasy and why novels within the genre used to be my absolute favourite – they have this ability, if done well, to take you to another place when you need to escape reality for a little while, and that’s exactly what this book did for me.

Once again, the world-building was brilliant. Schwab is one heck of an author to not only be able think up this extraordinary world, but to also have the ability to then write about it the way she does. And don’t even get me started on the plot – because sheesh, how original can this novel be? How unique? I can’t think of a single novel with multiple Londons, a cross-dressing thief and magical wonders such as this (and by wonders I mostly mean horrors, but still).

There were two things I didn’t love about this novel:

  1. The gore again (I’m just not a person that enjoys reading such detailed descriptions).
  2. This book absorbed me into the story-line – which is a great thing in truth, because that’s the purpose of a book, really – but it completely over took my life the days I was reading it. You think I left the house whilst reading this book? Ha, guess again!

In all seriousness, I’m so impressed. I said in my review of the first novel, A Darker Shade of Magic, that I didn’t really feel like it held up to the hype surrounding it, but that definitely doesn’t apply to the second because wow. I’m sort of feeling like this could be the best fantasy I’ve read all year (and I read Lord of Shadows by Cassie Clare this year, so that’s really saying something).

‘Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.’

It’s strange, but after reading AGOS I feel a lot more love for the first novel. I mean, it has all these wonderful characters in it, so how could I not love it? If I ignore Lila’s some of their violent tendencies, I really like our main characters! How the characters interacted with each other was lovely to read (the feels struck me, I won’t lie)! I feel like they were developed a lot more in comparison to the first book, as I felt a connection with them whilst reading – I actually cared what happened, and may or may not have shed a tear or two over certain events that took place.

We definitely explored the relationship between Kell and Rhy more in this novel, which I really enjoyed. On a side note, I think it’s of utmost importance that I express my love for Alucard (and mention that I’m pretty much shipping him with everyone in this book haha)!

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Something else I enjoyed were the multiple POVs from our characters. I thought it was clever how we could see what was going on everywhere – from Lila and Kell’s own escapades to the dark risings in another London. Sometimes changing from different perspectives can be a bit confusing, but I thought it flowed really well in this novel.

And have I mentioned yet that our characters are diverse? From gender identity to sexuality and race, I was really happy that there was so much representation going on. Their personalities were all starkly different too, and they each stood out, which was awesome. I also have to say one of our primary characters is a strong woman who doesn’t need anyone to fight her battles for her, and I love it!

I didn’t want this book to end. It was absolutely brilliant, and I’m so glad I read it. I was hooked from beginning to end – and that cliffhanger! What a cruel way to finish a book! I started the third book the day after finishing it because I couldn’t deal with not knowing what happens!

If you like fantasy novels, read this book! It took me by surprise, and I really can’t express how great a novel it is.


– Emma

Read On!

3 thoughts on “Book Review | A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

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