This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year along with Savage Song which is coming out in June and oh dear, it more than delivered. I fell in love with Victoria Schwab’s writing with A Darker Shade of Magic and with this book, I was consumed by that love.
Rating- 5/5 stars
Publisher- Tor Teen
Pages- 512 (Hardcover)
If you haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic, you should go read it first before reading this review. I can’t guarantee that I won’t spoil scenes or parts because there is so much to talk about in this book! You can read my fairly spoiler free review of ADSOM here.
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 extravagant 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—meaning that another London must fall.
So, there was a lot happening in this book. When I read the excerpt from Net Galley which was 172 or so pages from the book, I was ruined. The biggest role that this book played was to set the board for what will be, I’m hoping, an explosive finale. There were quite a few new characters introduced which I’m sure will play a part in the finale, big plot points were opened along with many storylines that I’m sure will be very enjoyable to read.
Delilah Bard is nothing if not on fire in this book. I loved her point of views more than Kell’s which was odd because in the first book, she’s just this amazing thief. The way she’s brought to life here is just amazing. Her character is stunning, strong, a great role model for girls everywhere. I love her ability to deceive and I also love that Schwab wrote her as someone who crossdresses and is very comfortable in her skin. Delilah is also much stronger and more dangerous after discovering and honing her magical skills thanks to the very enigmatic, Alucard Emery.
I know this might sound shallow, but I love Delilah’s outfits. The way Victoria describes them in the book just makes me want to constantly cosplay her. I cannot wait to dress up as Lila for Comic Con.
The connection between Rhy and Kell was interesting. It isn’t entirely mind reading but as though they’re one person in two different bodies. The consequences of Kell’s decision to bind his life to Rhy’s were there throughout which added a deeper side to their relationship. The way Rhy is so clearly frustrated by Kell’s gloom and Kell is disturbed by Rhy’s need to always get into trouble, to make everything normal so badly but is unable to, that dynamic was painful but necessary which was interesting to read about.
I was glad that the love shared by Rhy and Kell wasn’t diminished by their frustrations. Rhy helping Kell out with the Essen Tasch but risking himself to do it just for his brother was the sweetest thing I’d read in a while.
Alucard was a more than interesting character. His relationship with Rhy was something that I would’ve liked to read more about but the scenes with them were oh-so good! I would love to see them together for real in the third book. I ship them so hard. But I wonder, if Alucard left once, will he leave again? I know Rhy and Alucard have been in love with each other for years but could it be that something happens to one or the other in the next one? *please don’t kill anyone Victoria!*
There wasn’t much traveling in this book which was a bit disappointing. In the first one Kell went from Grey to White to Red London all the time but tying him to one London, Red and for a brief while Grey, I missed Kell being himself.
The entire setting of the Element Games was amazing. The descriptions sounded so good and when they get to this book and if they recreate it, the floating platforms will be the most amazing thing they bring to life.
White London has a huge role in this book because guess what, Holland didn’t die. And it turns out, Black London isn’t dead either just empty. Of course that means that the creep and scare factor increased exponentially because Holland literally struck a deal with the King of Black London. I can’t stop feeling back for the guy. First it was the Danes and now it’s Osaron. Will he ever get a break and just get to be an Antari? He made the worst deal ever and now he’s trapped inside himself worse than he was with the Danes because at least his mind was partly his own but now, he’s trapped inside and Osaron has complete control of him.
Ojka was a bit creepy. Her near psychopathic worship of Holland was understandable but unnerving. He gave her a new life, imbued her body with magic and strength, earned her trust, I wonder how far she would go for him. She has no idea that Holland is gone and I wonder who she really serves, Vitari or Antari.
So, in the end it’s quite clear that Osaron will wreak havoc over Red London, gain access to the palace and possibly kill Rhy’s parents, if he isn’t dead already after Kell gets captured and taken to White London and tortured by Holland. But Lila’s on her way to Kell to save him. There’s been a huge question on most reader’s minds, and that is is Lila Antari? Born in a different London but taken to Grey to protect her, stripped of the black eye that would mark her as Antari and given a glass eye, living like a thief while her magic lay dormant? She can move through worlds, perform magic at par if not stronger than Kell, and will quite possibly defeat Osaron. I just really need to know if she’s Antari or not because all the clues are scattered across these two books. I guess we’ll have to wait for book 3 to know what she really is.
This book reads like a script ready to be made into a movie. The Gladiator meets magic and traveling through worlds. Victoria Schwab’s writing is magical, electric, engaging and enthralling.
This book was definitely a 5/5 stars for me.