A Gathering of Shadows Blog Tour! Review and Q&A with V.E. Schwab

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Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 512
Source: ARC provided by Raincoast Books
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Overall: 5 STARS

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 extravagent 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-and so to keep magic's balance, another London must fall.

In A Gathering of Shadows, V.E. Schwab once again sweeps you away into a world of magic and alternate worlds quite unlike anything you've ever read before. Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell's possession and completely changed the fate of London—all four of them. Red London is now preparing for the Element Games, an international competition of magic that has all eyes on Arnesia.

Ever since Kell used forbidden magic to bring Rhy back to life, guilt and worry has settled heavily over his heart. He can't forget his failure to protect his brother from the Dane twins, the former rulers of White London, not when nightmares haunt him and his adoptive parents can barely look at him anymore. The people of Red London have always revered him as an incredibly rare Antari magician, but ever since the Black Night, they also regard him with fear.

But while Kell struggles with his guilt and feeling trapped in the royal court, Lila is far, far away from Red London, flourishing in a world of magic and infinite possibilities. An unapologetic thief and proud of it, Delilah Bard is happily living the life she dreamed for so many years back in dreary Grey London, working as a privateer on the Night Spire and learning as much about Arnesia and magic as she possibly can. But in her heart, she knows she's not seen the last of Kell yet.

If you haven't read A Darker Shade of Magic or A Gathering of Shadows yet, then you're absolutely missing out on an amazing cast of characters, and an intricate plot that builds the tension and suspense until you're at your breaking point. Every page brings new wonder and delight. And I was torn between hurriedly rushing to reach the end, or savouring each captivating chapter. Revelations quietly—and not so quietly— hit you in the chest and you blink in incomprehension until your brain catches up and you realize yes, that really did happen. (Or maybe it's because it's 4 am in the morning and you're tired but can't possibly put the book down until you've reached the very last page.) 

Dispel any doubts you had that A Gathering of Shadows couldn't possibly live up to the high expectations set after reading A Darker Shade of Magic. V.E. Schwab has delivered another spellbinding, unforgettable fantasy novel that will leave you desperate for the final installment in the trilogy. 

Q&A With V.E. Schwab
In the world of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC and A GATHERING OF SHADOWS, the seemingly endless potential of magic is in fact tempered by limitations, even for someone like Kell, who can travel between worlds. Do you find it challenging when you're writing and developing the world-building to maintain this balance, to always keep in mind that for every wonder magic can achieve, you must always find a way to also keep it in check? 

Honestly, I think the most important thing to remember, when writing fantasy, is that the world is guided by rules. Nature adheres to rules. Therefore, magic should always adhere to rules, too. For every action, a reaction, for every extreme, a return to balance. I try to make the rules of my world as intuitive and streamlined as possible, because the fundamental laws of nature are that way. My biggest pet peeve is when fantasy authors decide that the presence of magic is a carte blanche to include any and everything they want, without consideration for order, hierarchy, consequence. It makes the whole thing feel strange and ungrounded. And because as a reader I CRAVE the believability of magic, the idea that it could be real, I want it to FEEL real. Grounded. Believable. To do that, the infrastructure has to be there. To do that, it must follow rules. And if that sounds rigid, inflexible, it’s not. In fact, the existence of a framework is what allows writers to test its boundaries, to find its chinks and points of tension, and make their world more vivid.

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