Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.
Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.
THIS BOOK WAS FANTASTIC.
Need I say more?
It was beautifully written, with a beautiful storyline, with well-developed characters - what is not to love? And my friends, my friends who complain about YA and it's tropes, this is the book for you. This is not YA. It's dark. It's deliciously addictive. I can't wait to read A Gathering of Shadows, and then I'll be empty because A Conjuring of Light will be out in a year.
Before I ramble any further, onto actually reviewing the book.
I feel like Victoria Schwab books are the books to read. At least, before I picked one up, she was always the author with books everyone liked, everyone talked about, and I know I said I shouldn't give into the hype, but... My cousin mentioned he was reading this book, and he enjoyed the rich language and ability to show the story, rather than just tell it, and he usually reads "How to be successful" books. I knew I had to pick it up soon.
He was definitely right about the writing. It's not flowery; it's not full of sparkles. It's enticing, charming you with lines like these, and never letting go.
Looking for trouble, he'd say. You're gonna look till you find it.And right you are, Lila.
Trouble is the looking, she'd answer. It keeps looking till it finds you. Might as well find it first.
Why do you want to die?
I don't, she'd say. I just want to live.
A Gathering of Shadows is the story of one of the last remaining Antari, Kell, a traveler who can move between the different Londons. There's Grey London, which lacks magic and is dull and grey; Red London, which has the right amount and prospers; White London, which has too much magic and suffers from violence and tyrants. Kell keeps the rulers of each London in polite correspondence, while undergoing elicit deals on the side. It's illegal to move items between the Londons, and yet, Kell continues to do so. Until one day, a certain stone from Black London, which no longer exists, turns his world(s) upside down.
Delilah Bard, or Lila for short, has been a thief to survive the streets of Grey London. When she meets Kell, she uses the opportunity to go on an adventure of a lifetime.
Kell and Lila - this is how a friendship is! Or a relationship. Not sure if I ship them yet. But they grow from strangers to people who mutually respect each other to friends to maybe more...? They're from two different Londons, and were raised very differently. So seeing them clash at first to becoming friends was awesome to watch. Lila certainly has a strange wisdom about her, and a sense of recklessness, that fits Kel's stubbornness.
“You have a house if not a home," she spat. "You have people who care for you if not about you. You may not have everything you want, but I'd wager you have everything you could ever need, and you have the audacity to claim it all forfeit because it is not love.""I--""Love doesn't keep us from freezing to death, Kell," she continued, "or starving, or being knifed for the coins in our pocket. Love doesn't buy us anything, so be glad for what you have and who you have because you may want for things but you need nothing.”And Rhys is such a sweetheart and his relationship with Kell makes me cry tears. They're so damn loyal and devoted to each other.
"I'm not truly a Maresh, for all that the king and queen have offered me that name. I feel more like a possession than a prince."I love the world Victoria Schwab has crafted, bringing to life magic and making us wonder if other dimensions do exist? We definitely are Grey London, with our lack of magic. If only we had some... This story kept me on my toes, with a million twists and turns and its definite darker shade than the YA I usually read. Imagine the possibilities of multiple worlds! We're all Lila, looking for a way to live life fully.
At that, Rhy had punched him in the face.
Schwab brings to life our dreams of adventure, creating a multifaceted story that can pull in any reader. 10/10 I wholeheartedly recommend.