You can’t really talk about A Gathering of Shadows, V.E Schwab’s sophomore title in The Shades of Magic trilogy without hearkening back to the first book.
When A Darker Shade of Magic came out, apparently, it took the world by storm. I only discovered it at the beginning of this year thanks to the wonderful and completely mad community of bookstagram.
Warning: there may be spoilers for ADSOM below here
While some reviews accused ADSOM of being very slow at the start, for me it was one fast cart ride from start to finish. Kell gripped me from the first two paragraphs and I was so infatuated I actually sighed like a lovelorn ninny when I finally came upon him after a few dozen pages of the infallible Lila.
I guess it wouldn’t spoil much to say that this book starts with and focus, (though not entirely) on Delilah Bard – thief, human, opportunist, but maybe not entirely human either.
Her exploits get bolder and more dangerous now that she is no longer the Grey London pickpocket she once was. It’s like handing a bomb-making kit to that one kid in kindergarten who takes perverse pleasure in wrecking things and then watching the world implode.
The moral of this story is do not give people like Lila more power! It’s bound to prompt Victoria to write more books! (There’s no moral, we would love more books!) Lila is once again a pleasure to read about and as she realises she is capable of more, Lila automatically assumes this means she must swashbuckle her way into more elaborate and destructive schemes made me chuckle many times. I love her and I have no regrets about naming my kitten after her. (Though our Lila is starting to show traits of superior intellect and cunning and I may yet, live to regret it!)
If ADSOM was about journeys and the consequences of trivial decisions, then I would say at the heart of the story, AGOS is the story of love and of siblings.
Victoria has sculpted a beautiful thread of sibling love in the form of our beloved Maresh brothers and another pair not mentioned here and it was touching as it was heartbreaking, mostly because it felt very real.
I’m one of the few people I know who is lucky enough to have one of those unbreakable, two-hearts-one-mind relationship with my brother and it touched me how far Kell was willing to go for Rhy and a bit surprised at how far Rhy was willing to go for Kell. I mean, you could always excuse Kell’s affection as his need to belong, but for Rhy, he chose to love this boy who was not blood with all his heart and despite the fact that they both occasionally drive each other batty!
The cliffhanger has left me out of breath and unfocused and mumbling like the mad hatter all morning which is just how I like my pain! I cannot wait for BOOK THREE and the fact that it is still BOOK THREE and not (INSERT TITLE HERE) means it’s still so far away forget what I said about loving pain give me my book, dammit!!!
I’ve been rambling and I need to stop, but finally, you know how most of us have been questioning whether this trilogy is YA or not? And it’s kind of decided that it is not, because there are decidedly non-YA elements in the story, but when it comes to hanky-panky and dirty talk, I guess YA today is much more liberal than it used to be. (My Dad wouldn’t have let me read this until I was probably 17)
That said, The Shades of Magic is really about twenty-somethings who are still children where it matters and still make stupid, angst-riddled mistakes that bring all hell loose on them as teenagers are wont to do. So it may be an adult book, but the central characters are as teenage as they come.