Once again, I’ve had to push my TBR list aside in favor of reading a book I should NOT have read so soon after its publishing date. Especially when the confounded thing ends in a cliffhanger. Especially when I just got out of a massive book hangover, only to step into another one because OH. MY. GOD. This book is gold. It lives up to the hype. It…it’s just beautiful.
And frankly, it ruined my emotional circuit board.
Note: Possible spoilers as this is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic.
A GATHERING OF SHADOWS
by V.E. Schwab
Tor Books, February 2016
Rated: / 5 cookies
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 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.
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—meaning that another London must fall.
I spent a day or two wrapping my head around this review. I couldn’t format it properly mostly because all I wanted to write down was “OH MY GOD THIS BOOK IS AWESOME IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER AND FEELS. LOTS OF FEELS.”
To be honest, I still kind of want to leave it at that and just share all the gifs that perfectly conveyed my brain-exploding-into-a-million-feels emotions. I’m still doing the gifs. But I compromised. So I went along with:
The Many Ways V.E. Schwab Managed To Kill Me Thoroughly With Her Words
She’d never met a man who loved his job more than Alucard Emery. He relished it the way children relish a game, the way men and women relish acting, throwing themselves into their plays with glee and abandon. There was a measure of theatre to everything Alucard did.
Alucard Emery. Because multilingual pirate captain clearly isn’t enough to describe this beautiful man. The more I read about him, the more swoony he got. Granted, the name did make me giggle a little bit, considering I’m imagining a darker-skinned version of Alucard from Hellsing:
With the sexy, sexy voice of Fenris (Gideon Emery) from Dragon Age II:
Now imagine Gideon Emery say
“Spend the nights with me, and I’ll help improve your tongue.”
Yes. Yes please.
So yeah. On top of that, he’s actually pretty main. And on top of THAT, he is one hell of a charmer. ONE HELL OF A CHARMER.
Black London. Okay, so there were a number of POVs in this book on top of Lila, Kell, and Rhy. I won’t disclose who because obviously spoilers, but as with many books I’ve read that have multiple POVs, I tend to glaze over characters I don’t care about. In this case, however, my glazing over only happened near the very end (because effing get to the dancing already!!!!). For the most part, when I got taken out of Red London, Schwab decided to send me to Black and White London for a little observation-fest of what’s been sizzling since Kell and Lila vanquished the Dane twins in White London. Pretty hot shit, apparently.
“He wasn’t coming to pay your debt. He was coming to see if you’d returned to pay it yourself. I do not know why you two are circling each other like stars. It is not my cosmic dance. But I do know that you come asking after one another, when only a few strides and a handful of stairs divide you.”
Those damn kisses. There wasn’t much of a romance in A Darker Shade of Magic, which, honestly, worked in that novel’s favor. I would probably have been somewhat okay if A Gathering of Shadows followed in that respect, but seriously, I’m so, so, SO GLAD Schwab added a smattering of it in the book. I mean, the way she describes KISSING, for chrissakes, it would have been a damn waste not to add romance in.
Also, I totally ship both pairings. I totally hoped both pairings would happen to begin with. I am not desperately wishing for all my ships to work out in the end (because what are the chances all my favorite characters will survive?), but if one of these characters get laid, I won’t complain. I mean…Red London’s days are numbered, so might as well take advantage of what time one has, amiright?
Delilah Effing Bard. I admit she does have her moments, and I applaud her headstrong, adventure-grasping personality. But there were times where she goes off and does something that made me snort and shake my head a bit. Like committing identity fraud. I just…lol I couldn’t. I did squee when she came to her own, though. And her Essen Tasch fight with Kamerov? I absolutely died.
The Essen Tasch. So. The entire book pretty much revolved around the impending Elemental Games, and the last half pretty much encompassed the Games in its entirety. My image of the games were kind of similar to this:
Mixed in with this:
AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.
I was pretty much squeeing after every battle. SQUEEING.
“I’m an Antari!” Kell cut in, struggling to keep his voice down. “I’m the adopted son of the Maresh crown, the strongest magician in the Arnesian empire, possibly in the world–”
“Careful, Kell, your ego is showing.”
Rhy and Kell. I absolutely love how the two characters are bonded so closely, not just through the magical seal that Kell did in the previous book. They are brothers through and through, even when they don’t share blood (well…I suppose now they do with the bonding magic and all XD). I absolutely love their interactions with each other. Even when Kell is all frowny faces and Rhy is all crazy faces. Okay. I love Rhy. And um. Rhy.
Rhy leaned over. “Looks like I’m not the one who needs protecting after all. You know…” He sipped his wine. “It would be an interesting match…”
Kell kept his smile fixed. “I will stab you with this pin.”
“You would suffer.”
Come on. That type of banter is my kind of fuel.
My magnificently beautiful man that is Kell and his magnificent coat. Kell broods a lot. Kell frowns a lot. Kell yells a lot. Kell uses magic a lot. Kell is loyal a lot. Kell fights a lot. Kell suffers a lot.
Hell, Kell just has a lot of flaws, but he means well, that Kell.
I still maintain that he is my favorite character of this series, and this book only further increased my deep love for the black-eyed prince. I also still maintain that he needs a hug, a snog, and a really good lay. And oh, look! There’s one particular female I know may be able to deliver all that. (You think I mean me. I think I mean me. I don’t.)
And his coat? Gods. I love his coat. I am in a love triangle with Kell and his coat. I want his coat on me almost as much as I want his coat off him, if you get my meaning. Hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge.
5 out of 5 cookies! It may have been the worst idea to read AGOS without knowing when the next book will come out. Because, I mean, fuck those cliffhanger endings! (Though I am relieved that it didn’t end too badly…I mean…it only looks like Red London’s gonna go up in smoke, but I gleaned a wee bit of hope there…kind of.)
All I know is I am looking forward to Lila saving the day, Kell rocking in his coat some more, Rhy getting some much-needed comfort (hem hem), and Alucard taking his triad magic to even higher levels of showmanship and badassery. No pressure, Schwab. Make it happen.