Published by Macmillan on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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 extravagent 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-and so to keep magic's balance, another London must fall.
Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.
I just love everything about this world. Read it in a single day and I cannot wait for the next book.
I think I’m a bit of an unintentionally picky reader when it comes to fantasy. A lot of YA fantasy is heavy on the romance and low on the substance, which irks me, but I don’t take much pleasure in overlong, dense, wordy adult fantasy series either. I want exciting world-building, strong characters and good pacing that doesn’t sacrifice depth. And I feel like Schwab totally gets that.
The writing style is detailed and evocative – you can picture this world so easily, even though it is highly sensational, and you can feel the magic running through it. Schwab crafts scenes with both description and tension, firmly cementing her as one of my favourite fantasy authors.
It is a world for those who admire imagination. Alternate Londons, some with magic and some without, magic wielders, evil rulers, pirates and – in this installment – a magical tournament called the Essen Tasch. The author uses this tournament to draw the characters together, to create action and excitement, whilst behind it all there looms a dark threat.
With rich, evocative storytelling, an original, fantastically-conceived fantasy world, and colourful, weird characters, it’s hard to complain. The book buzzes with magical secrets and new discoveries; like an adult version of Narnia, it is a way of walking through the wardrobe and facing all the wonderful and horrifying possibilities.
I enjoyed Kell’s new experiences, as he comes to term with the lasting effects of what happened in the last book. I enjoyed all the backstabbing, cross-dressing and thievery. But, most of all, I just freaking love Lila. She is the baddest badass of them all and she doesn’t give a shit.
A Gathering of Shadows goes deeper, drawing us further into this world and developing all the characters. It ends with a promise of more horror and action in the next book. I can’t wait.
After all, you can kill people, but you cannot kill magic.