A bunch of magicians fight. And then right at the end, something bad happens.

Written by
V. E. Schwab in 2016

Can I just say how wonderful it is that authors like V. E. Schwab exist? She writes interesting stories that don’t go on for far too long, and they’re fun. I mean, yes bad stuff happens in all stories, murders, kidnappings and all that sort of stuff, but the books never take themselves so seriously that every meal is annotated.

A Gathering of Shadows is the sequel to one of the more interesting books I read last year, A Darker Shade of Magic. Four months after the crisis that nearly wiped out Red London, our main character Kell is treading lightly at home. Red London is preparing for the Element Games, basically the magical version of the Olympics. Kell’s been entered under a pseudonym and Lila, well she enters because of subterfuge. The festivities are wild, expensive and made to show off the best about Arne.

His adoptive parents are now suspicious of him, even though the crisis was his brother’s fault. In the meantime, Lila Bard’s been travelling the seas on a privateer’s ship, and discovers that her latent magical abilities are far more powerful than she imagined.

In another dimension, White London’s stirring again following the events of the previous book. But there are changes. A new king is in town, and his power comes with a heavy price. A price that could spell doom for every iteration of the world.

I like Schwab’s easy to read prose. I like how this book builds upon the foundations of the first, exploring more of Red London’s world. I even like how the magicians themselves fight in the Element Games. Normally, when magicians fight in books, I expect either a Gandalf or a Dragon Age Origins mage. Neither of which are fun.

We also explore the consequences of Kell and Rhy’s new life bond. Beyond the obvious suspicions of the Kind and Queen, there’s also how Rhy and Kell now behave to each other. A relationship of one-upping each other’s annoyances. Kind of how I expect two brothers to act when they’re six, and not fully grown adults.

A Gathering of Shadows is a fun fantasy book that you’ll really enjoy reading. It’s done a good job building further upon the first book, and it’s a fascinating universe, with new intrigues and, of course magic!


Five elements out of six. No blood magic to see here!

Read this if you…

Prefer magic to swords and shields.

Skip this if you…

Aren’t into interdimensional magic portals.


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