Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A Gathering of Shadows

Author: V.E Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 512
Series: #2 in the Shades of Magic series
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Tor Books
First Published: February 23, 2016
First Line: "Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble."

Book Description from GoodReadsIt 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.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Review:  This past summer I read the first book in this series and I was immediately intrigued with the premise of four different London's existing at the same time, each with varying amounts of magic.

Unfortunately, this book second book in the series didn't live up to the first book and I think it could have been down-sized considerably.  The main issue I had was that not a lot happened.  Much page time was devoted to the build-up to this big, multinational magical competition (think Tri-Wizard Tournament from HP).  And yet the actual competition was lackluster and didn't happen until much closer to the end.  Other than this tournament not a lot else goes on and the larger story arcs, which I loved from the first book, weren't addressed to the extent that I had hoped.

The issues were compounded by the fact that the characters didn't seem to develop any further than they had in the first book and their personalities, while familiar felt muted (except for Lila's arrogance which ran rampant throughout).  But I did enjoy the addition of Emery Alucard.  He has some mystery, can handle Lila and has a healthy dose of sass.  But the animosity between him and another character, while explained, seemed much too weak of a reason for the intense and long held feelings between them.

Then there were issues with the plot that didn't make sense to me. Why would Lila, a Grey Londoner with no magical training, suddenly decide to cheat her way into a magical competition where the other competitors are people with magical ability and who have been training for many years?  She's arrogant and puts herself in increasingly dangerous situations and based on that alone readers are supposed to believe she has a chance to win the competition? Um, no. 

Overall, this was just an okay addition to the series.  Even though not a lot happened it remarkably kept my interest enough that I finished it. So why the three star rating when it feels like I've kind of dumped on this book?  Schwab is quite a talented writer, the story started off strong (mainly with Lila's story line and the introduction of Alucard) and I continue to love her premise of the four Londons. I also loved the addition of Rhy's romance.  Unfortunately, this book suffered a severe bout of Second Book Syndrome and felt like it was merely a set up for the third book in the series.  It had action, various romances and a good cliffhanger but I wish some of that energy had been used earlier on. I'm hoping that the author will pull out all the stops for the final book.

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