Thursday, February 16, 2017

Theme Thursdays: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

This year we're going to try something new that we hope will help us tackle our TBR piles and keep us motivated to complete our #RockMyTBR challenges. We're starting a new feature called Theme Thursdays! Each month, we'll review books from our respective TBRs that fit a theme we choose at the beginning of the month. February's theme is PIRATES

A Gathering of Shadows
(Shades of Magic #2)
V. E. Schwab
Release: February 23, 2016
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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--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--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.

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.

Despite A Gathering of Shadows being one of my most anticipated books of 2016, I just barely got around to reading it after several friends told me to wait until closer to the release of book three. And all I can say is Holy Hell! How have people coped with that ending for a year?!?

While I loved A Darker Shade of Magic, I definitely adored this book more. It felt even more engaging and the characters felt so much more cemented in their personalities and confident.

The story picks up soon after the first book with both Kell and Lila spending their time in Red London. Kell continues to stay with and protect Rhy, whereas Lila has found her place as a crew member of a ship. From page one, I was once again enraptured in Schwab's magical world of multiple Londons.

There's just something magical about Schwab's writing. While is it full of complex world-building, political issues, inversed tropes, and various character dynamics, it is also incredibly readable. Personally, I can easily become bogged down by excessive detail regarding complex worlds and magic systems in fantasy, but I can honestly say that I never had that issue while reading this book. I was always immensely interested in whatever was occurring and couldn't put it down. And I have fallen head over heels for the magic system. I think the idea of the idea of elements and blood and bone being the main conductors of magic is brilliant and I loved that everyone approaches their element(s)/magic differently.

I was thrilled that we got so much Lila in this book. And I totally get now why all my friends describe Lila's personality as "Everyone is like "Lila, no!" and Lila is like "LILA, YES!". After this book, I feel like we're starting to understand Lila, her motivations, and her overall demeanor. She is an incredibly strong-willed individual and she is not afraid of crossing any lines to do what is necessary, which is definitely something we get to witness in this book. Despite the trouble she gets into and causes, I find it impossible not to love her and to respect her for her sheer confidence and audacity.

I loved Kell just as much as I did in the first book. He is still kind of a stick in the mud but he is fiercely loyal, and I think that's what makes him such an endearing character. He will never give up or turn his back on those he cares for. He is also extremely responsible with his strong powers which is admirable considering other characters. Although, I think we will see some different sides of Kell in the next book.

As much as I love Kell, I was ecstatic that we got Rhy POV chapters in this book! I loved seeing his character development in this book. He struggles with becoming a strong, powerful king one day, and the inner conflict he faces between his own emotions and his obligations were truly masterfully done.

Last but not least, my new favorite character in this series is Alucard Emery, the charming pirate captain. Or should I say privateer. I loved his character so much! He's witty, strong, sharp, and exceedingly amusing. I loved his relationship and dynamic with Lila. And I really want to know about whatever the drama is between him and Rhy. Every interaction between Rhy and Alucard was great and it created an interesting contradiction to what appears to be Kell and Alucard's mutual disdain for each other.

This book was so amazing! I really could spout pages in praise of this book. The plot, the magic tournament, the world, the characters... everything was perfect! It was all I wanted it to be and more! If you haven't read this series or this book yet, now is a great time to start.

  5 / 5 Stars!!!

My reviews of other books in this series:
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

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