Published: February 23 2016
Number of pages: 307
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: fantasy, adventure, magic, parallel universe, romance
Audience: adult fiction
Rating: 4/5 owl hoots
It has been four months since the Black Plague, four months since Kell met Delilah Bard, and four months since the Dane twins wounded Prince Rhy, and Holland’s body was left in Black London. Now Kell has given up his smuggling habit, and is haunted by dreams only to wake up thinking of Lila. Meanwhile, Red London is preparing for the Essen Tach, the Element Games, an international magic competition to keep the ties of neighboring empires together. However, an ominous shadow reappears and the balance of magic is in peril.
I have read disappointing sequels recently were a) the story suffers from middle book syndrome or b) the plot and the characters are just flat and I suddenly lose interest in the story. I recently read a sequel that was the latter and I was so bored to death with the story that eventually I was fed up and decided to DNF it. I don’t like to DNF a book unless I really have to; in the case of this particular book (which will remain unknown) I had no other choice because it was that terrible. There is nothing worse then a new series marred by the second book and immediately you decide not to continue with that series anymore. However A Gathering of Shadows isn’t that book, in fact it is the best sequel I have read this year and it only made my expectations of this series escalate ten-fold!
I am so glad I read this book after suffering from previous sequels with middle book syndrome. Thankfully, A Gathering of Shadows does not suffer from that. There’s a new side to our characters as Kell, Lila, and Rhy return. Kell is suffering from the weight of his brother’s life, while Rhy is trying to uphold his old princely self again, but underneath that he’s also struggling through the guilt and pain of the previous events. Lila is once again the old swash-buckling privateer but discovers something new about herself, a new power which she learns to hone thanks to a new friend and acquaintance she met overseas.
I ship Kell and Lila so hard because these two were just meant to be together since they ran into each other in A Darker Shade of Magic. All I ever wanted was to see Kell and Lila together again and sharing a romantic love scene, and alas! I finally got my wish! Thank you Victoria for writing the briefest but passionate, hot and intense love scene these two deserve. Bravo!
As seen in A Darker Shade of Magic, the story continues to be told in different perspectives: Kell and Lila’s in addition to Rhy’s. After what had happened between the Dane twins and Kell in the last book, I expected to see Rhy’s point of view of the previous events and how they have affected him. Sadly those events have left a deep scar into Rhy’s consciousness as he continues to feel guilty for everything that had happened between him and his brother. But his feelings don’t compare to how Kell is holding up. He feels responsible for everything that happened and so much more that Kell is fed up being stuck in Red London with all these rules to what he can do and where he can go that he’s constantly trying to find a way out. Kell wants to be free but knows he can’t because he loves his brother too much to just walk out and leave Red London. That’s one of the reasons I love Kell, he’s noble and loyal towards his brother and will do anything to protect him to see Rhy take over the throne and become the king that Arnes deserves. I only wish that we learned more about Kell’s real family and why his parents left him but maybe we will see that revealed in the next book.
Just like in the previous book, the first quarter of the story was committed to another world building as new characters were introduced and neighboring empires made an appearance, all this to build up the excitement towards the Element Games. The only drawback I had was that it took a really really long time until the games finally started, but it was worth the wait after watching different magicians paired up randomly as they fought each other with opposing elements.
The sequel was better than the last book with so many surprises, new characters, new love rivals, and a kindling romance scene between Kell and Lila. But the excitement doesn’t end there, not until you read the cliffhanger which made me screaming for the next book! There is also another character that makes a comeback but that’s all I’m going to say about that!