Book Review: “A Gathering of Shadows” by V.E. Schwab

I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “A Gathering of Shadows” by V.E. Schwab! I’ve read the first book before, and now here’s the summary for this one:

“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.”

I’m relieved that we do not spend what feels like a million years reading the worldbuilding alone this time around. Unlike the first book, where the worldbuilding felt overdone to the point of slowing down the plot for about a third of it, the worldbuilding is lessened slightly this time so that the plot moves at a better pace. Granted, the plot is still overall slow, but not as slow as the first book so it’s an improvement. The tournament arc taking place in the last section of this book could have been more interesting if other plotlines such as Lila and Kell’s romance hadn’t taken as much precedence as well.

There isn’t a lot of character development, unfortunately, save for Holland, who was magically resurrected by a being called Osaron, and you could say Holland’s deal with Osaron is one of those deal-with-the-devil type of things. It’s definitely not benevolent, but it’s fun to read in this book and I wish there was more of it. For me, Holland’s plotline was the most interesting and should have been expanded on more compared to Lila and Kell.  It also makes me wonder how Holland will fare next book as well. Kell and Lila, unfortunately, do not have any development at all, save for Kell getting fed up with having to constantly make sacrifices for Rhys and the royal family without anything good happening to him in return and Lila barely knowing a thing about magic and yet she unrealistically masters it in a short span of time.

Staying on the topic of characters, however, I’m glad to inform this: Alucard Emery is now one of my favourites. Though he’s only introduced as of this book and is a supporting character in Lila’s plotline (though he later gets more involved in Kell’s plotline when it turns out Alucard and Rhys, the person Kell’s life is bonded to as of last book, used to be romantic with each other), I find him fun to read overall. I do wish to see more of him in next book, and I do hope that the next book also expands on his romantic plotline with Rhys.

Overall, 3 out of 5 stars.

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