“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living”
*Warning* Spoilers ahead
Let me start by quickly talking about A Darker Shade of Magic. I don’t have a review for it because I read it about a month ago before I had this blog. I gave it 4 stars and thought it was an amazing book to start my venture into adult fantasy. I didn’t give it 5 stars because the beginning 100 pages went in one ear and out the other. It took a little while to get into it and it was a little bit confusing at first. Once I got past those 100 pages, I was extremely engaged and fell in love with the characters.
Moving on to the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows. I gave this book 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t on par with the first. If you love character-driven fantasy, this is the book for you. I enjoy character-driven stories, but this one was extremely long and most of it wasn’t necessary.
Up until the competition, I didn’t care for Lila’s chapters and still don’t think most of it was necessary. Besides Lila learning magic and meeting Alucard, most of it could have been cut. Also, a lot of Rhy’s and Kell’s chapters were fluff for a good portion of the book. I started to lose motivation to continue with the book until the competition began.
Even though I found the competition entertaining, I don’t understand how it advanced the story. It showed the reader more about Lila’s powers and gave us more insight about Kell and the rest of the Maresh’s, but not much else. It still could have been reduced and didn’t have to be a 520-page book.
Okay, moving on to what I enjoyed about this book.
There is something about a character with a complicated family that I love reading about. I feel bad for Kell, but I enjoyed his experience with the king and queen. Rhy and Kell are so good for each other, and it is so frustrating that his parents don’t see it. They only see the bad that Kell did, but barely acknowledge that Kell is the reason Rhy is still alive. I enjoyed this aspect of the story.
I know he is supposed to be the bad guy, but I am so intrigued by Holland’s character. The rest of the characters blaming Holland for everything is getting old now. All of the bad he did was because he was under the control of Astrid and Athos (I mean except killing Barron…that was mostly him). He hated Astrid and Athos much more than Kell and hated being a servant to magic. It is time that the rest see the entire situation and stop placing all of the blame on him. Holland only wants to protect his world. I sympathize with him and love following his story, especially in this book.
The development of the relationships in this story was such a cute subplot. My favorite scene was with Lila and Kell dancing together. Kell is seemingly the only Antari left and I’m so glad he has someone to take away the loneliness he feels about it. Rhy and Alucard are just as good together, and after everything Rhy has endured, he deserves to be with someone like Alucard.
My favorite side character in this series is Calla. I love how she treats Lila and doesn’t judge her, but instead helps Lila when she needs it. She is an amazing friend and knows exactly what Kell and Lila want. I can’t wait to see where her character goes in the finale.
Overall, even though I had some problems with this book, the good of the story outweighed the bad. I can’t wait to finish the series, especially because of the cliffhanger that this book ended on. So far, the Shades of Magic series is a great introduction into adult fantasy and I can’t wait to read more from V.E. Schwab.
P.S. This book gave me middle school vibes. It is like the transition between elementary school and high school. It is only there to bridge the way between the two, but you do learn some important things and make a few good memories.