A Gathering of Shadows is the second volume of the Shades of Magic trilogy(?), following A Darker Shade of Magic.
I start by saying that I like the style of the author and her choice to build original characters, different from the standard ones. I advance also that I was impatiently waiting for this book to be published and now I’m pining away for the third one.
Let’s begin with a brief summary about the context: there are four parallel universes that share only a city (London) and are different for the possibility to do magic. In our world magic is impossible (Grey London), in the one of the protagonist Kell (Red London) there is balance in magic, in White London magic is slowly disappearing and Black London collapsed on itself for the excessive magic power. The boundaries between the worlds are insuperable a part for the Antari (like Kell), extremely powerful and almost extinct magicians.
At the end of the first book we left Kell back to the palace, his life now indissolubly linked to Rhy’s the future king. Lila instead refused to come back to Grey London and left Red London for sea adventures.
Now Kell lives like a prisoner: the king wants to avoid any pain to his son and the only way is to keep Kell safe and controlled. Lila is the new thief of a ship commanded by a mysterious and beautiful captain, Alucard Emery.
Red London is in ferment for the Essen Tasch, a competition of duels between the best magician of the empire to which also Alucard will compete in. While the games are be set up the lives of Kell and Lila seems to be converging again and in White London are happening extraordinary changes.
A Gathering of Shadows is a very engaging novel, even if it is a transition towards the third book where – I think – the most of the problems will be solved; its role is mostly to make characters evolve in a new state, but it lacks a proper ending.
To make up for it the characters do not disappoint: Lila is always excessive, reckless and passionate for new adventures, Kell reasonable, reflective but more and more frustrated for the new limits imposed to his life. We also discover something new about Rhy, who had a marginal role in the previous book.
I think this series is good, there is an elaboration of common fantasy elements and goes beyond the concept of “eternal struggle between good and evil” by developing interesting and multifaceted characters.
* A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab ★★★★☆
*I read this book in english