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


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 ā€“ 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 ā€“ an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighbouring countries ā€“ 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.

Where do I even start? My love for this series is only growing with each book. This book is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, in what I’m going to guess is going to end up being a trilogy. Frequently, I find that sequels end up disappointing me but honestly this book was even better than its predecessor.

In my review for A Darker Shade of Magic I talked about how magic becomes a character in itself and this only gets explored even more in the sequel. I also found that the second book had a lot more world building. It explored the Black London a bit, which is only mentioned vaguely in A Darker Shade of Magic, and only really as a cautionary tale to those who would like to abuse magic.

Red London, where the bulk of the story takes place, is also expanded upon by having the plot revolve around a Magicians’ duelling tournament involving the three largest lands in the Red World. Each of the lands selects 12 of their best magicians to participate and they all come together to battle each other in the London in the Red World. This allowed Schwab to expand upon the geography of the Red World and the way its citizens differ in looks, beliefs, magical abilities, and language based upon their region.


As Lila is from another world, having her see all these people for the first time let Schwab describe each person in vivid detail to the reader and have it seem natural. As a reader I got to experience Lila’s awe at all the different cultures and drink in all the new details as she did. The description is done well, but still left me constantly wanting more simply because it is such a cool world.

The plot is excellently developed. There is the main storyline in this book that revolves around both Kell and Lila and this ginormous magicians tournament, and then there is the subplot that is centred in White London that is hinting at what is to come in book three and is developing magic as a character more. I really enjoyed this because you get an action packed brand new storyline with the tournament and you continue to see the development of the overarching series plot through the action in White London.

Honestly completely adored this book and can’t wait for the third one to arrive!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Books: Throne of Glass by Sara J. Maas, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke