A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by V.E. Schwab
Verdict: A great bridge to book 3.
#1 - A Darker Shade of Magic
The consequences of book one have set in. Lila has set off in the new world with a sink or swim attitude, and closes in on her dream of owning a ship. Kell struggles with Rhy’s life tethered to his, unable to live freely, fearing that they’ll share the consequences. Lila and Kell are drawn together once more, this time by the call of a tournament that pits magicians against each other in one on one battle, the Essen Tasch.
Lila is one of my favourite characters of all time. She's reckless, and smart, and a darker shade of hero, and it always surprises me how boldly she challenges the world to seize her dreams. I also liked the newest character, Alucard, the likable pirate slash privateer who gives Lila a chance in the world she doesn't belong in.
This book is easier to slip into, easier to enjoy from page one than the prequel. With less jumping around, the world building feels solid, strong I no longer felt lost between the worlds, and instead enjoyed the story from the first chapter. The prose is effortless and beautiful, conjuring up images to match the magical battles.
It's not quite as exciting as book one which is why it loses a star for me. The tournament begins two thirds of the way in, and before that, we’re really just getting there. Lila carves out a mini-adventure of her own, while Kell and Rhys plot their dangerous fun, and it's all of equal interest. The characters’ paths entwine closer and closer, teasing the reader with the promise of a momentous clash which, in the end, didn't make enough noise to feel like a proper climax. There are a few twists and turns as another evil rises in another London, but that's not for this book, just a promise for later.
Despite the brilliant writing and great characters, the story line never peaks or crashes. Instead it builds, one brick at a time, into the bridge that leads us to book three. There’s a bridge hanger too, with all the promises of a great tale beginning in the next book. It's a good sequel, but it's missing the impact of a great standalone novel.
Source: Bought it!