(Shades of Magic #2)
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift – back into Black London.
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games – an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries – a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.
A Gathering of Shadows is one of those novels that everyone should read, not because it promises a volatile love story or because the fast-paced plot reveals unbelievable twists, but because it promises the exact opposite. It’s not a novel that sells itself on pure shock value. Instead you get flawed characters, slow but thorough world building and delicate relationship dynamics.
The novel brings together our favourite world traveling duo. Lila and Kell find themselves back in Red London for a magical tournament with a tantalizing prize, money and the chance to test your limits against the country’s best magic wielders.
I’ll admit to Lila being my favourite character and I adored that she shared the spotlight with Kell in this novel. Lila doesn’t shy away from the necessity of gutting someone in a dark alley and somehow still reveals herself to be a vulnerable character. Her insecurities and determination to carve her own path make her an intricate and compelling character.
Kell is trapped under the scrutiny of the king but incapable of being disloyal to the crown and his brother in everything but blood, Rhy. Kell’s restlessness is all encompassing and drives him to stupid decisions that are unbecoming of the world’s most powerful magic wielder. There’s nothing I like better than powerful characters drowning under the responsibility of their own power, it’s a reminder that our favourite characters struggle with their sense of self like everyone else.
The secondary characters, mainly Rhy and Alucard are a lot of fun. I lamented about the fact that Rhy didn’t seem to have as big of a part in the first novel and I was excited to see the relationship between Rhy and Kell develop over the course of this novel.
There is no obvious and expected chase after a singular villain to no avail, instead the plot revolving around the evil figures develops slowly, the calm before the storm. Her villains, which very rarely appear in this novel, are based in humanity and are not unknowable. This makes them more appealing.
Though the novel is slow I was never bored. This is partly because of my love for the characters and partly because of the seemingly effortless way the author weaves a complicated and fascinating world. I need to applaud for the author for her endings; she has never failed to make me gape helplessly at the last page of a novel. This is not due to shock, I found the plot reveals rather obvious, but due to well-crafted scenes and subtle or amusing dialogue.