Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
ashley | I am definitely late to this ballgame. I’ve had the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab on my radar for ages and have heard nothing but wonderful things. But despite all my reading, apparently I can’t read numbers because I started with the 2nd book, A Gathering of Shadows, instead of the first book and it took me half way through to realize that I was missing some vital information. I made the decision to continue reading and this review will reflect that.
This world, this book, is new to me. I knew nothing going in and had plenty to learn, but somehow, despite missing a WHOLE ENTIRE BOOK, I found I was able to catch up pretty quickly and still be very enthralled. Schwab makes many references to things that happened previously and still sort of re-introduces people in such a natural way that I honestly didn’t realize that this wasn’t the start of this story until I began to think how all of these flashbacks would have made a really great book.
The story unfolds slowly; we start with an intriguing hook, but then we go back and let things unravel and build to that point again, slowing sprinkling information about worlds and languages and people. But at the same time, it didn’t lack anything. It wasn’t confusing, things wouldn’t have made more sense if I knew more in the start. This was the perfect balance and the perfect way to keep the magic growing.
Book two surrounded a tournament that pit magician against magician, bringing Kell and Lila back within arms distance of each other again. Even without the previous context, I could feel the electricity between the two. I liked their dynamic, I liked their stubbornness, I liked how they were able to put all their own personal differences or confusing feels aside when it came down to protecting the other.
Even though the relationships were new to me, I admired the closeness between characters. They obviously had been through a lot and even though they had all gone their separate ways, there was such a respect between them all and that as really apparent here.
Being my first introduction to this world of magic, I quite enjoyed the tournament as a platform to introduce the elemental magic and the way people respond to it. I liked learning about Kell’s uniqueness and his strange bond to his brother Rhy. I really enjoyed this book a lot, there was adventure and pirating and magical face-offs, but the characters were also strong and intriguing.
I don’t know if it’s because I missed the big climax in the first book, but I felt nothing at all about the growing darkness in this book, of the rising king who was seeking more power and using his follower to find Kell. This part of the book actually dragged for me and I wasn’t that interested in it. Likely this will come into bigger play in the third installment and will be more exciting for me, but at this point in the story I didn’t care much about this.
I don’t think I will go back and read the first book for a proper introduction, but I definitely want to continue the series and see where this group ends off. This was well worth the read.
february 3, 2015