A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) by V.E./Victoria Schwab

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1.) A Darker Shade of Magic ★★★

Readalong for the BooktubeSFF Awards which is being hosted by Adriana from Perpetual Pages, Chelsea from TheReadingOutlaw, Samantha from Novels and Nonsense, Connor from Connor O’Brien, Elizabeth from Books and Pieces, Kaitlin from Kitty G, Sam from Thoughts on Tomes, Elena from Elena Reads Books, and Thomas from SFF180!

Four months have passed since the events that took place in A Darker Shade of Magic. The dust has settled in Red London, but the memories and repercussions are still haunting our princes.

And in this world there are four parallel Londons that coexist in this universe:
Grey London – (smells like smoke) is like our real world’s London, with no magic. Delilah Bard is from this London.
Red London – (smells like flowers) is the home of the main protagonist, Kell, where he and his royal family rule. There is an abundance of magic in this London, most coming from a red river which lights up the whole city.
White London – (smells like blood) is a city in war with itself. It was ruled by evil twins, but now has a new king. Everyone in this London tries to fight for magic and power within this corrupt city.
Black London – (we don’t know what it smells like) and is still basically a mystery. It is essentially a lost city, since regular people cannot travel between worlds.

“You can kill people, but you cannot kill magic.”

I completely gushed about this in my A Darker Shade of Magic review, but this plot and concept is truly unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I did enjoy this more than A Darker Shade of Magic, but I still wasn’t as in love as most people are with this series. I am completely head over heels captivated with this cast, but the Tri-Wizard Tournament reminiscent storyline left a lot to be desired.

This is a very character driven story and, bless V.E. Schwab, the characters in this are nothing short of amazing:
Kell – Our most powerful magician.
Rhy – Our king in waiting.
Delilah Bard – Our finally found pirate!
Alucard – Our brand new captain.

Like, two amazing ships are full sails ahead, but I always feel so underwhelmed by the romantic scenes. Like, I know not every book has to have romance and/or sex, but throw a girl a freakin’ bone. I would do sick and terrible things for a mutually romantic understanding with either of these OTPS, because the missed-connections are killing me.

“You two are circling each other like stars. It is not my cosmic dance. But I do know that you come asking after one another, when only a few strides and a handful of stairs divide you.”

And let me say, I, Melanie Parker, was personally living for any interaction with Alucard and Rhy. Like, I was such a hot mess when the scene in Rhy’s room happened. If you’ve read this book then you know the scene. Like, I was gasping, screeching, rolling around in my bed. It wasn’t pretty. All I want in A Conjuring of Light is a play by play of their daily interactions with each other. It truly is all I need in this life.

Delilah Bard is one of the best characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. Seriously, she is exactly the type of girl I would want my future daughter to read about. Seeing her overcome her past is one of the greatest things in this book. The fact that she always puts herself, her adventures, her needs, and wants first is so admirable and so important to see. Yet, seeing her struggle with being able to love and being able to be vulnerable is something I haven’t got words for. Delilah Bard is so important to me. She is truly a 10 out of 10 character.

“People could only hurt you if you cared enough to let them.”

Also, the opening scene in this book? Holy shit. One of the best I’ve ever read. I actually was unsure of what I was going to start in April, so I took like five books off my bookshelves and figured I’d read the first chapter of each and see what interested me the most. I started with this book, and I never picked up another, because this opening chapter was so freakin’ outstanding! Thank you, Delilah Bard!

And now I feel bad because I didn’t write anything about our main protagonist, Kell, but he’s a little cinnamon roll, too! I live for his brooding moments, and the amazing banter between him and Rhy! And the angst between him and Alucard was everything I could have ever asked for in a protective big brother! Seriously, I loved that backstory! I also love seeing Kell actually just enjoying life, even though those moments are few and far between.

As much as I love this quartet of characters, I’ll be honest, nothing really happened in most of this book. The pacing didn’t feel slow, because, like I’ve said 100 times, the characters grow and develop a lot, but the events in between leave a lot to be desired. The start and the end of this book were action packed, tense, and completely amazing, but the middle of the story was very uneventful, even with a big tournament happening. I for sure wouldn’t recommend this for people who don’t like very character driven stories.

But if you do like character driven stories, this book is home to four amazing ones! I do plan on reading A Conjuring of Light very soon, because I have to know how this series wraps up! Hopefully it wraps up into two relationships, because my heart can’t deal with any other outcome.

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