I did it.
I finally read it because A Conjuring of Light comes out on Tuesday.
I’m pretty sure this is the best fantasy to be written in the post-Harry Potter world.
I’m pretty sure it’s ranking among my all-time favorite series.
Victoria (V.E.) Schwab has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary writers because the way she writes is so natural and so utterly magical. When I read A Darker Shade of Magic last year, it was (being perfectly honest) because I thought the cover was cool. And the description sounded okay. And I’m a huge fan of London, so I’m willing to give most anything featuring my favorite city in the world a try. And plus, this had multiple Londons.
But I was sold when I discovered Kell had a magic coat.
I know, it’s stupid, but it’s that kind of detail that makes me love Schwab’s writing. Kell, as a traveler between different worlds, must fit in amongst the dwellers of Grey London, White London, and his own Red London. So it’s fitting that he has a magic coat that can transform to suit his location. And the fact that it works by him turning it inside out — I fell in love. In a way, it reminds me of Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation, not that it becomes a character, but that it helps the character develop in astonishing ways.
Seriously, I was sold at a magic coat and I read that book in two sittings. I couldn’t escape the world Schwab created and I didn’t want to. But the trouble was that I found this book when the second had just come out and the third was on the horizon. So I put A Gathering of Shadows aside and promised I’d read it sometime, but knowing I wouldn’t touch it until the third was in sight.
Then there was a date for A Conjuring of Light. And still I waited.
And then, yesterday, I started Gathering because this Tuesday the third and final book will find its way into my hot little hands and I will spend all day reading it because I want to get sucked into Kell’s Londons again.
It’s a hell of a cure for the book hangover I was left with after The Once and Future King.
In Darker Shade, you tumble headfirst into a world in which Kell is one of the most gifted magicians in Red London and one of the smugglers of goods into Grey London while he travels to deliver royal messages. But then a magic that shouldn’t exist starts making its presence known, and Kell, along with Lila, a girl from Grey London, must find a way to protect his home from a London that shouldn’t exist.
And that’s putting it really terribly because it’s astonishing and exciting and full of mystery and badass women and handsome princes and lost cities and found cities and everything you could wish for in a fantasy novel.
Gathering is an extension of the true magic of Darker Shade. Kell is facing his demons alongside his princely brother, Rhy, and Lila has joined up with… let’s say “privateers,” only because they have letters of marque. Allegedly. And everyone is going to come together again because it’s time for the Essen Tasch, the Elemental Games. (Think March Madness but with magicians and three nations who all want to show off their skills.) Trouble is, that dark magic that threatens everything Kell loves hasn’t exactly disappeared…
And dude. So good.
There’s something for everyone: magic, pirates, romance, disguises, battles, constructive angst, brotherly love, brotherly hate, twists and turns and everything in between.
I really, seriously, honestly cannot recommend this enough. It’s because of the first book that I picked up her teen book This Savage Song (which was also AMAZING) and the reason her novel Vicious is also on my list of “must reads.” But this second book is the reason I will read anything she writes, because it cements my belief that she weaves magic in her words, and it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book like that.