Where does one begin? Certainly not the beginning. No, let’s start with the moment I fell in love with Delilah Bard. It was May 8th 2019 and Lila was the master of fire. If I ever wanted to control an element, it’s fire. So we became tentative friends. And then as A Gathering of Shadows continued, I realized I’m Kell and she’s my Lila, my daring, beautiful, adventurous Lila. And that’s where this review starts.
It was a beautiful day, and I had a can of coffee in my vest pocket: I was about to interview V. E. Schwab. Why am I tell you this in a review? Because I didn’t have a coat, I had a character I felt comforted by, one that knew what it was to be scared and still say Defy ME! Lila Bard
What is it about this series that has me captivated? Character. Tried and true. I empathize with Lila, with Kell, with Rhy and Holland and Ned. That is what Schwab does so well. She makes characters we all connect to and with and can put on like coats to give us the empowerment we never knew we had.
So this review will be a bit different, only because I don’t know where to start. I still adore Kell. I get Lila, she’s like a best friend. And then Rhy, le sigh. He’s such a little puppy.
So how is this post going to go? Like this. Plot: Character: Craft. And then, all of the fangirling for my heart.
Can we talk about magic matches and tournaments? Because I’m sold on those for the rest of my life. And THAT ENDING. Like, I still go back and read that last chapter and scream. Because it is incredible. And heartbreaking. And beautiful. It all is woven beautifully in a masterful web that we willingly collapse into. That said there are moments that stuck out in ways that just make my reader heart ache and burst in a million shards of glass. One:Lila and Kell in the area— tell me that is not one of the most amazing fight scenes you’ve read. It is vicious and visceral and witty. Two: Lila spying on Alucard. It gives such agency to Lila and digs into the relationship between rivals and friends. Three: Kell and Rhy. I actually have way too many chapters marked with their sibling relationship, because it is one of the most wonderful themes in this book. I want to do an entire post on that, because Schwab gets it right; that blood is only so thick, and loyalty is more than just family. It’s a connection to people and it transcends everything know fact of the universe. Four: That ending. That last sentence. Poignant and horrible yet captivating. * I will come back to this in the Craft section.
So you see, I can’t write about the plot of A Gathering of Shadows— because I really can’t write about this book in general. It has now been 6 months since I read this… and I’m flipping through my tabs laughing and crying and sighing because every single word has weight.
Moving right along: Character
Shall I express the ways I love these characters? Each and every one in their own way. Even the dark glob of evil. Schwab crafts characters that just captivate you and hold you hostage to emotions you never knew you could feel for a fictional character. But isn’t that the beauty? That we relate so well to something? Maybe because we see bits of ourselves in them? Maybe because we have been there, made that choice, or maybe it’s something we strive for and fight for? The characters keep growing, keep showing a refined facet of who they started out as, and as they grow- so do we as readers.
That’s it. That’s all I can say.
Applause. Standing ovation. Am I biased? Sure. I am not afraid to admit that either. Schwab’s craft is something that makes me giddy. It is stunning in every way; from the prose itself, to the weight in each word, to how she develops characters and continues to expand them and give them depth, to how she constructs this intricate overlapping plot to lead us to that ending. You knew I was getting there eventually. Fair warning. That ENDING. The only other time I have felt that visceral about a book, slamming it closed and open and sobbing, was the moment I threw Mockingjay across the room as my brother walked in. In response he looked at me and said, “I want to read that book.” (Reader, The Hunger Games is the only series I have convinced him to read) So when I talk about books that change you, that live with you, this is what I mean. The horror in the tear-filled pages leading up to the final sentence in A Gathering of Shadows (because you knew that was coming) is what made me nearly throw this book across the room. * I didn’t, because I had just gotten it signed.
“Whatever I am, she thought, pressing her hand to the wall, let it be enough.”
And that’s how I’m going to end this post. Because that quote is my quote.
Xo, Camille – Keep Fangirling