In A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab introduced us to a brilliant new world — or rather, four worlds: Grey London, the city we know of, dark and dreary; Red London, where magic flourishes around every corner; White London, cold and drained by power struggles; and Black London, long ago consumed by magic.
In Red London we meet Kell, one of the last blood magicians with the ability to travel through worlds. When a dangerous talisman ends up in his hands, he sets out to get rid of it, but not before he bumps into Grey London cutpurse Lila Bard, who forces him to take her along for the adventure.
The sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, begins four months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic. Lila has been testing her newfound powers on the high seas while Kell and his brother Rhy have been struggling with their new condition: being bound together by black magic. The arrival of the Essen Tasch — a grand tournament of elements between magicians from around the lands — brings opportunities none of them can resist. But while they’re focusing on the Games, a threatening power is rising in another London.
Addictive and immersive, A Gathering of Shadows cements this series as a must-read. Rich details illuminate every dimension of an extravagant city flooded with magic, and intriguing personalities evolve into complex characters. Lila dominates as the ballsy anti-heroine, Kell becomes more than a tragic, tortured trope, and Rhy — simply a roguish secondary character in the first book — is finally given some depth. Even as they grow, they struggle with vulnerability, resisting their desires for belonging, for exploration, for freedom. But there are flashes of each character’s full potential, and between those glimpses, the vivid setting, and the climactic cliffhanger, Schwab already has us anticipating the rest of the series. A