Published by Macmillan on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
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-and so to keep magic's balance, another London must fall...
“Everyone’s immortal until they’re not.”
A Gathering of Shadows picks up four months after A Darker Shade of Magic ends. Things have somewhat returned to normal for Kell, Rhy, and Delilah, but in many ways they’ve changed forever. Kell and Rhy, now bonded together by magic, are at each other’s throats. Rhy is resentful towards Kell making a life-altering decision on his behalf, and Kell is treating Rhy like a glass doll. To make matters worse, The King and Queen have all but disowned Kell, leaving feel like an orphan in his own home. Meanwhile, Delilah finally found her place on a ship, but it just isn’t her’s. Though she’s trying to escape into a new life, she discovers that the past is difficult to run away from. With the Element Games set to begin in Red London, the three friends find themselves back together once more.
“Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.”
I enjoyed seeing how time has changed everyone, but I much preferred it when their paths crossed again. The strain on Kell and Rhy’s relationship made me sad, but hopeful that the brothers could make peace with Kell’s decision. What made me more sad, however, was how the King and Queen begin to treat Kell. He’s their other “son,” or so they always claimed, but now they treat him like any other servant. I understood why they are disappointed with him, and why they didn’t trust him any more, but was disturbed by how easy they seem to cast him aside. Just when I thought Kell could be wrong about his place in the royal family, the Maresh began to prove him right. This left me very frustrated.
Though Kell and Rhy’s storyline frustrated me, I loved reading about Delilah’s exploits aboard the Night Spire, and the introduction of Captain Alucard Emery. It was obvious that Lila had magic, and was special, and I enjoyed all of the scenes about her discovering her power. I also loved Alucard, as he seems to be a fun character with lots of secrets and hidden depths. Once those secrets were revealed, I was pleasantly surprised, and couldn’t wait to learn more.
“Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don’t want to die – dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were actually doing before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”
The Element Games was a fun part of the plot, and reminded me of the Tri-Wizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It was also was great meeting other magicians alluded to, but not seen in the previous novel. I also enjoyed how this story element brought Kell, Rhy, Lila, and Alucard together. This is when the story really picked up, and the pace kept me more invested in the story.
One aspect of the story I also enjoyed was learning what became of White London in the absence of the Dane twins. This ratcheted up the tension, and left me anticipating the trouble and danger that was about to start. Once the pace of this novel picked up, it never let me go, and forced me to continue on with the third novel due to the ending that left me wanting more. If you put down this series because of A Darker Shade of Magic’s slow start, then you may want to give it another try. It may start slow, but it in no way remains that way. In fact, it’s like a roller coaster. It starts slow, but once it gains momentum you are thrilled beyond your wildest imagination.