“A Gathering of Shadows” is the sequel to “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E. Schwab who is perhaps better known as the YA and Scholastic author Victoria Schwab. I was introduced to her by my favorite independent bookstore when it featured A Darker Shade of Magic as it’s speculative fiction pick of the month last year. Filled with energy, adventure and characters you come to feel for, ADSoM was one of my favorite books of 2015. The end wraps things up nicely and so I was unaware that it was the first book of a trilogy. Last month while scanning the shelves for a different book, the cover of A Gathering of Shadows jumped out at me with it’s distinctive red, white and black cover, so reminiscent of the previous book.
The book found it’s way into my hand and I may have squealed in delight when it was revealed to be a sequel! I would get to go back to the wonderful world/s that Victoria created and spend more time with tortured Kell and determined Delilah. I would get to see more magic, I would get to see the consequences of actions taken in the first book. I was really excited.
In ADSoM we meet Kell, a most unique individual, in a world where magic is common and most people, but not all, have some level of skill with at least one of the five elements (air, earth, water, fire and bone). Some are able to manipulate two elements and a small few can do three. An Antari can use all five elements and has access to blood magic that no one else does. One special ability of blood magic and being an Antari is the spell to transverse worlds. Kell is an Antari and the adopted son of the King and Queen of Red London.
With his ability to travel between worlds, Kell serves as royal messenger for Red London passing correspondence between his world, Grey London (a similar equivalent to our world) and White London. Access to Black London has been cut off. These aren’t their official names but what Kell refers to them as. Each world is distinguished by it’s access to magic. Red London is flush, White London is scrabbling and magic is considered a myth in Grey. And while much of these worlds are quite different, in each world there is a London, and in each London there are buildings that are exactly the same.
Even with his power and the exotic sights he has seen in other worlds, Kell is a virtual prisoner at home. Never allowed to leave the city of Red London. His small bit of rebellion is to collect little trinkets from the worlds he visits. Naturally, this will come to future problems. While in Grey London, Kell gets entangled with Delilah Bard, thief and future pirate captain (if she has any say in her future). From here the adventure kicks into high gear and races to it’s conclusion.
With a unique magic system, compelling characters, good pacing and an unusual world set up, I loved A Darker Shade of Magic. A Gathering of Shadows had a lot to live it up to. I’m happy to report that AGoS lived up to my expectations and then ended on a cliffhanger! I was about 3/4 of the way through when I began to suspect that the overall story arc would not be be able to be finished by the end of the book. The feeling kept growing as the number of pages kept shrinking, then there was the last page and a massive cliffhanger.
With ADSoM I was unaware that more story would be coming. With AGoS I’m chomping at the bit for the next book to come out. Victoria Schwab even brought up the situation in her acknowledgements. “I also want to point out that I made it nine books without invoking the dreaded cliffhanger”.
I’ve been thinking very hard and I’m not sure how to review the second book without giving away spoilers. So, I’ve written this instead hoping that I’ve convinced you to commit to a trilogy that has only two books written, one recently. However, I think I can guarantee the third book before the next Song of Fire and Ice gets published!