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A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic) Paperback – January 17, 2017
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RT Book Reviews Top Pick! Review
"A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale...This is a book to treasure."―Deborah Harkeness, New York Times bestselling author of the All Souls trilogy
"Rich details illuminate every dimension of an extravagant city flooded with magic, and intriguing personalities evolve into complex characters...between [the characters those] the vivid setting, and the climactic cliffhanger, Schwab already has us anticipating the rest of the series." ―Entertainment Weekly, Grade A, on A Gathering of Shadows
"Compulsively readable…her characters make the book. Just as Kell has layers, Lila is a satisfyingly rich invention…the stakes feel higher because Schwab takes the time to make a world worth getting lost in. Darker Shade Of Magicresolves its plot thoroughly, but still feels like it could be the seed of a lengthy series. With so many worlds on the map, there's plenty left to discover." ―NPR on A Darker Shade of Magic
"Schwab is a fantastic writer, and this book moves along quickly: it’s an easy world to immerse oneself in, and the four Londons that we get to visit are a treat to behold: they’re vibrant, interesting and detailed. The worldbuilding here is spectacular, and it’s worth picking up the book for this alone. (Well, and the fantastic cover.)The series is set to be adapted into a television series, and both books will be perfect for that." ―io9 on A Gathering of Shadows
"This is how fantasy should be done.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review, on A Gathering of Shadows
"Full of magic, intrigue, adventure, deception, a bit of piracy...this will engage both adult and young adult fantasy readers alike.” ―Booklist on A Gathering of Shadows
About the Author
V. E. SCHWAB's first adult novel, Vicious, debuted to critical praise and reader accolades. Schwab is the author of YA novels, including the acclaimed The Near Witch, along with writing Middle Grade for Scholastic. The Independent calls Schwab "the natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones" and someone who has "an enviable, almost Gaiman-esque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones."
Top customer reviews
But with the Element Games, an important magical competition, right around the corner everyone’s focus turns to everything surrounding the Games; the politics, the parties and the magicians competing.
While a London away dark things are awakening.
I’m not sure if I give this book 3,5 or 4 stars, or maybe something in between. I did like this book but I also have some complains.
I’m going to start with the things I liked.
I really started to like the characters, both the old ones and new ones that were introduced. Unlike in the first book Lila wasn’t threatening to kill everyone in every other sentence, which I had found rather annoying about her. And the times she did, she usually had a good reason and the ability to act on her threats.
She is still a wild card and rash in her decisions but she also grew as a character and those weren’t the only traits she had in this book.
We also get to see more of Rhy and Kell’s brotherly relationship which I really liked.
But my complains are that most of this book revolved around the Element Games that in the end weren’t very important to the main story line. The Games didn’t set anything up for the third book that I can put my finger on or have any major consequences.
It was a cool idea though it would have been more interesting if it would have been tighter woven to the main plot somehow.
This book still held my interest, in the end I enjoyed it overall and the ending captured my attention and made me excited for the last book.
I couldn't stand her in the first book, and with many more chapter sections devoted to her in A Gathering of Shadows I found myself aggravated quite often. I feel like I should be able to appreciate a badass female character, but I don't like this one. She's not a badass. She's one of those characters the author tries too hard to make look like a badass, and does it in ways that surpass my tolerance for disbelief and fiction. The prime example (SPOILER) is where at the start of the book, Lila takes over an entire ship of a dozen pirates all by hereself. In the first book she couldn't even handle 3 teenage street rats by herself. But now that people have started helping her with magic less than 5 months ago, she has enough (plot-convenient) natural ability to get near the end of the tournament despite all the seasoned fighters.
What almost angers me more than her poorly-developed character, though, is the fact that Lila and Kell only knew each other through the course of 2 or 3 days in the first book, but somehow they are magically (no pun intended) drawn to each other. I saw it coming, but I still find it to be a ridiculous cliche.
There is something about this series that I can appreciate aside from Lila. She's really the only character I dislike so much. The other characters, Kell, Rhy, his parents, and even Holland feel like 3-dimensional characters that I can grasp. (Even though Holland, I feel, has surpassed anti-hero territory and is more like a villain, he is one of my favorite characters.) And I've been fascinated with the Antari magic and worlds from the start, so it's a disappointment to me that his series has to be soiled with a half-baked romance in the background.
With everything said, I will read the third book to see the series through because it caught my attention for a reason. I have a feeling, though, that I will like the third even less because, as Lila is often used as an "unstoppable" plot device, I predict she will magically end up saving the world(s).
Also: (Another spoiler) Rhy and Alucard are second cousins, right?! Their parents are cousins. That's so gross and unnecessary!
What I liked
The characters. Right from the beginning, Lila had me chuckling along with her sassy attitude and I sympathised with Kell and Rhy as they tried to come to terms with the events of the previous book. Some new characters are introduced, notably Alucard Emery. This is a particularly interesting new addition as both our protagonists have very different attitudes towards him. This leaves the reader somewhat torn about how to feel about him. He’s rather a mysterious characters - It’s clear that he’s a lot more than just the pirate - excuse me, privateer - that he claims to be. I really hope we learn more about him in subsequent books.
The romance. The relationship between Kell and Lila was so cute and beautifully done, especially given how little time they actually spend interacting with each other in the book. There were so many adorable instances of Lila thinking things like “oh, that guy’s hair is almost the same shade as Kell’s” or Kell’s seeing something pretty and thinking of how much Lila would enjoy it. Of course, if confronted both would vehemently deny being in love. A clear case of showing, not telling. Brava Victoria.
Interesting pacing. As the book blurb indicates, a significant focus of this book is the Element Games, a magical equivalent of our Olympics. Yet, they do not provide much dramatic tension. They are generally non lethal, and the outcome of winning is little more than achieving bragging rights. In fact, until about 85% of the way through the book very little actually happens. Towards the end, it was very clear that this story would not be self contained in the way that the first one was, and that I would have to prepare for a cliffhanger. The wonderful thing, however, is that I really didn’t care. I was having too much fun following these two crazy kids and their mixed signals romance and the magical world in which it takes place. The last few chapters of the book really speed things up though and I can’t wait for the next book.
What I didn’t like
Lack of variety in the Element Games. Each level of the competition follows the same format. I would have welcomed some changes in structure for the subsequent bouts. Also I did have to suspend my disbelief at certain participants. Did Stasion really think he could compete at Olympic level with his limited experience of magic?
Despite those minor gripes, I adored A Gathering of Shadows and it gets a well-deserved five stars out of five from me.