HNS Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

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A Gathering of Shadows Final

Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 512
Year:  2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Purchased
l B & N  l Book Depository l Goodreads

Synopsis:

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Reviewer’s Thoughts:

A Darker Shade of Magic failed to deliver what the beautiful prose it assured.

It has a unique uncharted plot, but the sluggish execution thwarted the “supposed brilliance” of it. In the end it came off as a mediocre story, truly over-hyped by a large chunk of people. But, what A Darker Shade of Magic lacks, A Gathering of Shadows remedies. It is a definite improvement.

One. Two. Three. Four.

It has been four months passed, since the short-lived coup of Red London. Delilah Bard is still a thief who’s making a life for herself across the ocean. While, Rhy and Kell are dealing with the repercussion of their actions. (See Chapter I of A Darker Shade of Magic)

To show the strength of Red London, the monarchy decided they won’t be swayed by the usurpers of the Crown. The Royal family will move forward in hosting the annual Element Games. It is a competition of magic, originally designed to keep the peace between the bordering nations.

Characters

In the previous installment, Schwab introduces Kell, an Antari who can transcend through different parallels of London; Delilah, a thief who has a great aspiration to become a pirate; Rhy who is the Royal Prince, and Kell’s adoptive brother. They are written meticulously, and not in a positive way. They are one-dimensional sort who are extremely painstaking to witness. Dry and unseasoned like mayonnaise.

Moving over to the sequel, I see a vast improvement in the characterization. I finally find the appeal now. Kell has become less boring, Delilah now exudes the interesting factor. But it was Rhy who carried the book. He became nothing to everything. He stood out. He tremendously helped in making the story a delight journey. I love his customary jest, and his entire wardrobe of personality. Without him, this book would have been another pretentious tier, vying for a unique prose, when the truth are stories about white-straight, fantasies are nothing new anymore. No matter how much we try to rationalize it. That is why I couldn’t connect with the first book. I felt no kinship towards Kell and Delilah, (who both dominated the storyline.) They are characters who have been explored countless times. They’re not unheard of.

Graciously, I’m quite satisfied A Gathering of Shadows expanded Rhy’s character arc. We get to unwrap the flirtatious façade that he usually put up front. Schwab showed his vulnerability, his struggles, and the aftermath of his short-lived desire for greater power. I hope the concluding book would also explore his agency.

Family

Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.

This book also delves the adoption. I like how Schwab subtly infuses the concept of kinship without the blood ties. The hardship, otherization, and the familiarity that we adapt into. Kell isn’t a stranger to the Maresh family. He grow up in Red London. He is part of that world. But after the events that took place four months ago, he was reminded of his otherness. The parents that he considers, now, treat him like a traitor. Even if that’s the case, his brotherhood with Rhy still continues to be his strength.

Romance

I consume romance in great quantity. I love them, and I’m always here for this. Was it greatly written? Yes. But, as expected I’m begging for more. I’m crossing my fingers, my OTP would get a lot of page count next time.

Plot

A finely sculpted unique plot cannot take you that far off. It is where A Darker Shade of Magic self-sabotaged itself. The pacing was slow, and there were countless unnecessary theatrical effects.

This follow up novel was a tad bit better, but there are still a handful of scenes that I deemed uninteresting. Note: Spectacular scheme and luscious writing doesn’t have to compromise the likability, and the pacing of the story.

Verdict: After reading the majority of Schwab’s books I learned something vital, her series usually picks up at the sequel. If you find yourself in a similar situation like I do, I recommend giving A Gathering of Shadows another chance.

Review also posted at Goodreads.

 

About the Author

7dVr3HIhSue discovered the magical world filled with words at a young age. They have been her constant companion ever since. In addition to being a full time bookworm, and a dessert enthusiastic, she also runs the first fansite for Vampire Academy’s Lucy Fry called Lucy Fry Source. When she’s not tucked between the pages of her books, you can find her at her personal blog. You can also follow Sue on instagram and goodreads.

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About Kerly Sue

Sue discovered the magical world filled with words at a young age. They have been her constant companion ever since. In addition to being a full time bookworm, and a dessert enthusiastic, she also runs the first fansite for Vampire Academy’s Lucy Fry called Lucy Fry Source. When she’s not tucked between the pages of her books, you can find her at her personal blog. You can also follow Sue on instagram and goodreads.