The Book’s Basics
Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Yes. This is the second book in “A Darker Shade of Magic” series.
Length: 512 pages
Initial Reaction: I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the third book.
This book follows Lila and Kell after they went their separate ways in A Darker Shade of Magic.
Kell is focusing on his relationship with his adoptive family and his responsibilities as a prince while there is a large competition in Red London.
Lila is getting her sea legs as she has finally joined a pirate – privateer – ship and is traveling the seas with a new crew and a perceptive captain.
Who would I recommend this book to?
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy fantasy books. The world-building and magic system are well developed and intriguing.
I have been finding it really interesting to see how an author’s writing changes from book to book, especially within the same series. I’ve only been paying particular attention to it recently, but I’ve found that an author’s writing improves book-to-book. This is the case with A Gathering of Shadows, as well. I found the writing a bit more refined in this book and was taken out of the story less than in the first book.
There are similar typo errors in this book as in the first, A Darker Shade of Magic. I expect typos in books, even in professionally published books, but there is one in particular that stands out for me and I had to take a step back from the story to figure out what had happened:
“Lila dug her nails into her palms, and by the time the man finally set her down on the ship’s desk beside the waiting cask…”
Schwab, V.E.. A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic) (p. 16). Titan Books. Kindle Edition.
“Desk” should be “deck” – it’s only one letter off, but it did muddy the meaning.
Writer Craft Notes
As mentioned in the previous section, I found this book better written than the first in the series (and I did not think that one was bad). I believe this is to be expected; as authors write more, they will have more experience and their writing will improve. It’s something that is thrown around a lot in writing advice circles, but it is affirming to see it actually happening, especially through an influential writer’s work.
There were some similarities with the first book, especially in terms of disguise and identity. Schwab developed this theme from the first book, which was great to see. It helped with continuity between the books (in addition to plot and characters).
There are always different threads of tension in scenes furthered through plot elements, romance, characters’ pasts, and others. It’s great to see these play against each other as it keeps the book interesting, makes characters feel more dynamic and helps to propel the plot in a way that makes sense for the story.
I have some questions about consequences for the characters in this book. Kell suffers the most for them, but there are decisions that Kell and Lila make where there are no real consequences, even though they were set up to have large ones. As there is another book after this one, I’m not sure if those are going to appear again in the next book. I’d imagine there will be, but it’s an important reminder for me to think about consequences for my own characters’ actions and decisions. There was a major consequence in A Gathering of Shadows from an action that happened in A Darker Shade of Magic. As follows, I believe that the actions that happened in A Gathering of Shadows will have conclusions in the next book, A Conjuring of Light.
I’d better get reading to see!