Review: A Gathering of Shadows

Series: Shades of Magic: #2

“Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary."

“Be quiet.”

“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”

A Darker Shade of Magic was dark and fantastic, with wide varieties of magic and travels/travelers between worlds and things going from bad to worse. In the end, good triumphs over evil (more or less). So where to go for a sequel?

The Tri-Wizard tournament!

So it’s not exactly Harry Potter, but the parallels are fairly clear. A dozen magicians from each of three nations in a fight to the hopefully-not-death for honor–their own and the honor of their home countries. And of course all the main characters have to compete… one way or another.

It’s great to see more of a single London (Red London in this case) and to see more of the ’normal’ (non-Antari) people of these worlds. The worldbuilding is wonderfully details and really makes each of the London’s pop in its own way.

It’s also great to see more of both Kell and Lila.

Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.

They’re wonderfully weird, Lila in particular. A badass with a wicked, often dry sense of humor.

“No,” he muttered, running a hand through his copper hair. “No. No. There are dozens.”

“Kell?” she asked, moving to touch his arm.

He shook her off. “Dozens of ships, Lila! And you had to climb aboard his.”

“I’m sorry,” she shot back, bristling, “I was under the impression that I was free to do as I pleased.”

“To be fair,” added Alucard, “I think she was planning to steal it and slit my throat.”

“Then why didn’t you?” snarled Kell, spinning on her. “You’re always so eager to slash and stab, why couldn’t you have stabbed him?”

Although man does she make a number of questionable choices with seemingly no repercussions. Murder, kidnapping… There’s something to be said for being a protagonist it seems.

It’s also nice seeing Rhy grow into his own, with both a royal and a non- magical viewpoint among a pile of magical heavyweights. Especially learning more about just what Kell did to save him in the climax of A Darker Shade of Magic. Newcomer Alucard is quite a bit of fun as well, acting as as second mentor figure to Lila’s more piratical tendencies. Plus

The main downside of the book? It’s one of the worst ‘second of a trilogy’ books I’ve ever read, with a far lighter plot than the first and ending on a literal cliffhanger. It works if all three are out; I’m just glad I didn’t read it before A Conjuring of Light was released.