Thursday, June 30, 2016

What we're reading: Victoria (V. E.) Schwab

Last year, a guest blogger (Daryl M.) wrote a great review of A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab, known to some of you in book club as the author of Vicious. While Schwab herself divides her writing into books by Victoria Schwab, which are intended specifically for a teen audience (like The Archived and its sequels), and books by V. E. Schwab, which are intended for adults, her adult books are great fantasy writing that is completely accessible and appropriate for older teens!

The second book in the "Shades of Magic" series, A Gathering of Shadows, was published in late February, and I was finally able to check it out last week.

It's been four months since the events that took place in the first book, and for some those four months have been quite eventful. Lila Bard, who always wanted to buy, borrow, or steal her own ship (despite the fact that she doesn't know how to sail), has not yet quite achieved her own captaincy, but has found a place on a crew and has departed the Red London docks in search of adventure. Kell and Rhy, now tied together by one life force, are becoming increasingly restless at their forced inactivity--particularly Kell, who has had to give up his smuggling activities in the other Londons and stay in the Arnesian capitol in Red London, in order not to put himself or Rhy in jeopardy. But for all the players (and some delightfully complex and slightly weird new ones), the primary focus is the upcoming Essen Tasch, or Element Games, an international competition of magic being hosted this year by the Arnesians, designed to maintain a healthy relationship devoid of war between their country and two others. Rhy is in charge of designing the games and the venue, while Kell and Lila eventually play their own complicated (and surprising) roles. Meanwhile, as the book's synopsis mysteriously says, "A shadow that was gone in the night will reappear at morning." Da da da DUM. Something sinister is lurking...

Don't you love it when the sequel completely fulfills the promise of the first book, which you already loved?

GREAT characters, both from the previous book (Kell, Delilah, Rhy) and from the current one (ooh, Alucard Emery!). Lila is still one of the best heroines out there--smart, fierce, and funny. The language is beautiful, with detailed and evocative descriptions, and the dialogue is sharp and snappy, with wonderfully snarky repartee. The world-building and spectacle continue. Stuff is happening behind the scenes that sets us up for the next book. And hey, you can't go wrong with pirates, nor with a magical tournament! Awesome.

Can't wait for the third. Have to, but can't. Go, V.S., go!

Editor's note: Burbank Public Library owns the first book in hardcover, audio, and e-book. The second book we have only as hardcover, but the e-book is on its way!

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