Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) by Victoria Schwab

20764879Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Pub Date: February 23, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 506
Source: Purchased
Genre(s): YA, Adult, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★½
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Book Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

My review:

“She could forgive the girl who had needed a captain of the guard to offer stability after a year in hell; forgive the girl who had needed a captain to be her champion. But she was her own champion now.”

There’s not much I can say about the plot without giving away spoilers. Bad things will happen to the characters that you love. People will die. There are so many players in the game now, it’s sometimes hard to remember who you’re supposed to love and who you’re supposed to hate. I’ll leave it at that.

This is by far my favourite book of the series! I thought Crown of Midnight was good, but gods-damned, this must be what hellfire feels like. I’m so fired up. Again, I am sorry for the excessive references to flames but they are difficult to avoid when fire is so significant in this story.

If I had to describe how this book made me feel: “It was like dying a little every day. It was like being alive, too. It was joy so complete it was pain. It destroyed me and unmade me and forged me. I hated it, because I knew I couldn’t escape it, and knew it would forever change me.”

I loved reading the interactions between Aedion, Rowan, and Aelin. Aedion’s really grown on me in that annoying (but lovable) big brother kind of way. And let’s face it, everyone is waiting for Rowan to put his moves on Aelin. The tension is real.

I also wanted to highlight a question posed by Manon: “Do you believe monsters are born, or made?” — I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, but that’s a conversation for another time.

★★★★ (4.5 stars) because now I know what all the fuss is about! Empire of Storms needs to come out sooner.

Book Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

My review:

“But he had no idea what sort of darkness lurked inside her, or what sort of monster she was willing to become in order to make things right.”

This was good. Quite good. I feel like abandoning all of my predetermined reading choices so I can pick up Heir of Fire instead.

Celaena’s arrogance is no longer as off-putting as it was in Throne of Glass, and we finally get a real glimpse of the general badass-ery that everyone boasts about. This was a good example of “show, don’t tell”. I feel like the issues I had with Throne of Glass were corrected or masked in this sequel. It was more exciting, less predictable, and kept me wanting to read one more chapter, after chapter, after chapter, until I finished the whole damn thing. We also learn more about the history of some characters, which is nice. Everyone loves a backstory.

Also (surprisingly), I was worried that the book would be 99% romance and 1% fantasy, but the balance was perfect. The relationships were complementary to the plot and not the other way around.

★★★★ (4 stars) for cozy towers, cavernous libraries, and Chaol.