When V.E. Schwab wrapped up A Darker Shade of Magic, she left plenty of questions without answers, which means plenty of content for additional books. A Gathering of Shadows is book two in the series, and while I enjoyed it, pretty much every question remains unanswered.
This second book focuses a lot more on Lila and her new life in Red London. Spoiler, she doesn’t stay with Kell, instead, she heads out on her own and takes up with a ship captain. During this time, Lila begins to learn how to tap into and control her magic.
Kell, on the other hand, is extremely restless from tiptoeing around in order to keep Rhy safe. Additionally, the king and queen distrust him, and Kell recognizes that his home has become a prison.
Kell and Lila finally come face to face again during the Essen Tasch, a competition that pits the best mages against each other to find out who is truly the best. Meanwhile, in White London, someone has taken the throne and begins slowly weaving a web to catch Kell.
A Gathering of Shadows is definitely a character building, plot building book. When you finish all 500 pages, you realize very little has changed since you began the book, in terms of where the storyline is. But several small, powerful things have happened that set the scene for book three. Kell, tired of being trapped and distrusted, is willing to follow a stranger to White London. Lila, during the games, has proved that she has more power than anyone thought, and though she doesn’t quite understand it, and she is learning to control and balance it, we know she will be capable of coming to Kell’s rescue in the third book.
I’m a little torn, when it comes to this book. I enjoyed it, and I appreciate how Schwab shows her characters’ growth, instead of a little aside, “oh yeah, Lila learned to use magic.” But part of me feels that, as a middle book that was mostly setting the scene for the final showdown, maybe it was a little long and drawn out. Not that it wasn’t well written and enjoyable to read, but with a book of this length, I just expected a little more action relevant to the overall story, or at least a few more answers, or even hints, for all the questions still floating around.
What I can say is, I expect the final book to be packed full of action and revelations. And I’m excited to get to read it.