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

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3 out of 5 gathered stars

This book is 250 pages too long and I’m salty.

Victoria – I’m only mad cuz I love you. No. I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.

Ok, this is the 2nd book in the Shades of Magic series – look for it under my “All the Reviews” page for the other books.

But for real. What was supposed to go on in the first 300 pages of this? Because very little did. This could have been a 300 page book, if she had explored all the teasers she gave us – teasers for things that will clearly be resolved in the next book. This book was not what it should have been about. It was about a lot of drama and waffle that didn’t go anywhere, where it could have been about threats to the crown and intrigue and the only things worth reading happened in the last 150 pages. Instead of a tight 200 or 300 page book, it was 500 pages of pearl clutching.

There is still nothing resolved about Grey London – not the suspicious way that the Prince Regent is behaving, or Ned and his suddenly discovered magic. When we left him last time, he was using some seriously black magic and using up people’s bodies, I mean, villain level shit. This time, he’s a quiet pub keeper. The fumbling murder seems to have stopped, but besides Kell’s few interactions with him, we don’t find out more of what is going on. Why bother with Grey London AT ALL? Nothing happened there.

We are introduced to royals from far distant that have nothing to do with anything in the plot. They are flat, 2 dimensional people with no impact on the story, yet they take up pages and pages of prose. There are all kinds of threats suggested and implied – even a girl with a thing for Kell that could easily have been developed into something – and nothing. Nada. Zilchito.

Mr. Rhy-guy, who is so gung ho on his kingdom and “being strong enough to be worthy of being its prince”, the same guy who nearly destroyed it in his grasp for power, decides to be reckless and send Kell, and thereby himself, into danger with serious international implications for little or no gain. And this has to be hidden from the King – so they give the guards a cover story… which is a believable story and could have been the backbone of the damn book if it had actually been true, and thereby those damn royals that we were introduced to in painful detail and with much pomp and circumstance might have had some IMPACT ON THE DAMN STORY. As opposed to sending Kell out for shits and giggles AND NO DAMN REASON. Those first 250 pages I’m complaining about are mostly Kell and Rhy being angsty. Because they are tied together, so Rhy feels guilty and caged, and Kell just feels caged. They feel each other’s emotions and frustrations and it pings back and forth and whah whah whah. So Rhy drinks and Kell practices magic and they both do a lot of staring into the middle distance and pissing me off.

Lila gets into danger and then gets out of it and goes and kills some people for revenge. The result is that she is late to something. ?!? I groaned aloud. I was like, are you serious? She kills people and the only retribution, little miss I only kill people when I have to (and she seems to have to a lot) and the only cause and effect on the plot is that she is late to an event? She doesn’t even tell anyone what she went through. Oh, and she can do magic. Which we don’t learn about until it’s so late it’s ridiculous. I mean, we know. We know she’s a damn antari BECAUSE HOW OBVIOUS IS IT? But of course, she doesn’t. Because she, and everyone else in the book, is willfully stupid or the author THINKS WE ARE. I do not appreciate this. I mean, you can’t have read the first book and half of this book and not KNOW. That can’t be a spoiler. She’s so obviously The. Chosen. One.

Also  – the bullshit way that Lila highs off and enters the magical competition at the center of the book – well, the last ¼ of the book because the damn thing doesn’t start till page 348, is ridiculous. It’s so out of left field. It’s so unbelievable. I liked Lila in the first book even though I felt she was your generic badass girl in a YA. This time, I realized I hate her. She’s reckless and her motivations aren’t worth the risks she takes – even though she was also more angsty this go round – but even with more attempt at character development, I did not correlate what she was doing with what she was feeling.

Oh, and there’s a goblet of fire. I mean, the hunger games. I mean, a magical competition. That starts on page 400. THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE BOOK. The competition should have been threaded thru with the threats from Grey London and the looming threat of White London – I mean, we have 4 Londons, do you really think we’re only going to stay in Red London? That White London is taken care of? Of course it’s not. Shenanigans are going on, and they didn’t raise their actual, real head to do anything until page 494…. of a 508 page book.

The last 200 pages are good. I read them all in one day. The pace picks up. Stuff happens. Not all of it pissed me off. But I was averaging maybe 50 pages a day before that because this book has the worst case of 2nd book syndrome I’ve ever read. I am so mad I have to give this 3 stars. This has so much potential and I KNOW Victoria Schwab can write a book. That is not in question. But why did she write this one? I’m a good person. I don’t deserve this.

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