Friday, June 3, 2016

Travelers and Magicians: A Gathering of Shadows

Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016!
Get It: Amazon

From Goodreads...
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like 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.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

My Review!
*Minor spoilers!

This book ruined me. I am ruined.

Okay, so I had a lot of intense feelings while reading this book. I was stressed, annoyed, angry, hurt, happy, full of shippy goodness. But damn, that was a rollercoaster ride I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go through again! There were so many moments I just had to put the book down and breathe. I even tweeted a bit, um, intense things throughout the read. I WAS GOING THROUGH A LOT, OK. A Gathering of Shadows surpassed all of my expectations and then some, even if I’m not sure about a few aspects of it. It was definitely better than ADSOM (which I didn’t think was possible??) and I’m also super happy I reread that first book beforehand, because not only was everything fresh in my mind, but I fell even more in love with this world and its characters. And AGOS just made me love them even more, and I loved the addition of Alucard as well.

Oh, my honorable, steadfast Kell. The wearer of the fabulous coat, the Antari, who can move between worlds. But after the events in the last book, and the fact that he is partially responsible for the Black Night, he’s not allowed to travel anymore. So, he’s trapped. He’s trapped by duty, by family, and he’s trapped by the hand he dealt himself when he saved Rhy’s life. Because of their soul bond, Rhy’s life is now tied to Kell’s, so he’s under heavy guard. And he’s suffocating slowly, from the inside out. He’s tense, angry, and wired up thanks to the hit of magic from the black stone and the power that doesn’t seem to settle down. He’s going stir crazy, basically, which is actually kinda HOT to see because Kell has always been in control, but now he’s unraveling. And I loved seeing him with his guard down, even when I wanted to smack him for his ridiculousness. But he’s also feeling more and more like an ornament in the castle. Gone is the warmth from the King and Queen, gone is the absolute trust in him. And gone is Lila, the cross-dressing pirate he can’t stop thinking about.

Lila is one of the most resilient, badass ladies I’ve read in ANY book. I love her sass, her strength, her craving for adventure and her endless wit. I love that she doesn’t conform to society’s expectations of her, even when she’s mocked for it. But it’s her. It’s Lila. She has always been more than what she looks like on the outside, more than just a Grey Worlder uprooted from a life of crime. Though I love that she’s so deadly and even arrogant, I didn’t like some of her choices in this. Because they made her reckless. I understand that Lila is addicted to the fight, and that she’s always had to do whatever it took to survive because no one else was going to take care of her. She’s learned the hard way about waiting and asking for permission, about NOT taking what you want when it’s right in front of you. But goddamn, it’s like she has a death wish. She has no regard for her life, and the decisions and risks she takes gave me such anxiety, because I just wanted her to THINK without jumping headfirst into things. This recklessness is going to catch up to her at some point, and it won’t be pretty. (but I still love you, Lila, you badass bitch -- in the most loving use of that word).

So I could understand Kell’s anger toward her, for the part she plays in this book, because he just wants her to be safe. After everything that happened in the last book, can you blame him? He’s IN LOVE; it was quiet, it snuck up on him. And although he’s never shown any indication that he does love her, it’s infused into every single interaction and conversation with her. Also, c’mon, you want to know how many times he thought about her during the 4 months and some odd weeks they were apart? And Lila OBVIOUSLY feels the same way. I mean, it’s so obvious to everyone BUT those two, stubborn children that they are. Honestly, the way Victoria played up their reunion was annoying me because there were so many moments I was like THIS IS IT and she just laughed and RUINED it. But that reunion was actually worth the wait. *swoonsmeltsdies* They’re my OTP of this series, and I fucking love the two of them together. Even if they don’t understand the other’s actions, they’re supportive. And given what Lila does at the end, they’ll never be able to stay away from each other. And if one of them is in trouble, you can be damn well sure the other won’t hesitate to jump in to save them.

And Kell and basically everyone is in trouble, thanks to Holland. (My precious). Okay, so Holland’s storyline hurts me. I’m going to start this off by saying that I. LOVE. HIM. I do. He’s not a good guy by any means, and he’s sure as hell the antagonist of this story (even though he’s not the true villain of it). BUT I don’t care. I don’t have any romantic notions about him, but I’ve always loved his character for the complexity and grayness to him. And you know what? He just wants to save his people. That’s all he’s ever wanted: to restore White London to its former glory. But as you all know, he never got to do that because he became a slave to the Danes, horrible fucking awful people who turned him into the guarded, wounded, wary character who doesn’t understand love. I have a lot of sympathy for him, especially since he is STILL not free and on his own. No, he’s not a good guy. I probably shouldn’t love him. But I think he’s so much more than the Antari who ruined lives. And when Kell *almost* killed him in ADSOM, I was gutted. Because in the end, all he’d wanted was to be free. It’s not as if the other characters HAVEN’T done bad shit, either. I think one of the things I love most about this series is that EVERYONE lives in the gray area. There are no bad or good characters. (Except Osaron, the bastard).

I knew he hadn’t died after the last book, call it being completely hopeless to my feelings for him, but I had been confident he’d come back. I don’t even want to tell you how badly I freaked out when he was all like ‘call me Holland’ but what I didn’t expect was the antagonist part. Except, he’s not the only “bad guy” of the story, thanks to fucking Osaron and his shitty deals. Magic is power, and power attracts individuals of all kinds. Osaron is the actual worst of those types, and I’m TERRIFIED of what he’s going to do in the next book. I’m also nervous about the fate of my otp, as well as Rhy and Alucard. Okay, so I do love them too, but I’m just not OBSESSED with either of their characters. However, I love that they’re bisexual, that they have history, that the two of them are so much more than what they first appear to be. *mumbles IhavehadproblemswithRhybefore* I REALLY didn’t find myself as sympathetic to Rhy’s anger as Kell’s. I think sometimes he’s just a spoiled boy-king who feels like he has to compensate for his lack of magical skills. I understand his feelings, especially after Things Happen and we got to see much more of him than we did in the first book. So I'm growing to love him a lot. And I LOVE the bromance between him and Kell (seriously it's so great, I hope it never ends). And I think they’re both, he and Alucard, great characters, and I already love the relationship between them. I’m looking forward to more of them in book 3. :)

The books I love the most are the ones that make me FEEL. You could have the funniest, most loving characters, and the perfect blend of fast and slow plot, but it’s nothing if I don’t feel anything about the story or the people in it. And boy, did I ever feel while reading this book. It was intense and stressful and I just needed time to come to terms with all of what had happened and where the characters ended up by the last page. If book 3 is the last one in this series, I just know it’s going to destroy me. I want to believe that everyone is going to make it out alive, but it’s REALLY hard to feel confident in that. I have no idea what Victoria has up her sleeve, and I have never been more scared since The Raven King (which isn’t even out yet, and what the hell are these authors doing to me? I DON’T LIKE IT). If you need me, guys, I’ll be curled up in a ball and whimpering until 2017.


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