I was missing the different Londons world that V.E. Schwab has created in “A Darker Shade Of Magic” so I chose to read the second installment in the series. Another reason was that I missed also Kell and Lila, the two main characters in the trilogy. So I took the book of the shelf and dove right into it.
It’s been four months since the events of the first book, when Kell met Lila and the two of them tried to keep the darkness away from Red London and the world they know. It’s been four months since they brought down the Dane twins in White London and since the dying Holland and the obsidian stone were cast away in Black London. Four months have passed and Kell is still waking up in the middle of the night by his nightmares. Four months now that he holds Rhys life into his hands, a reality that haunts every little step he takes each and every day.
Lila has managed to make her dream come true and was able to travel the seas of this world with a big ship. One that is not hers, she is not a captain, yet, but she is living it. She is aboard a pirate ship with a very respectable and powerful captain, one that wants to return to Red London and participate in the Elemental Games. Because this captain is a magician himself, just like most of the Red Londoners and he is going to participate in the international tournament of Elemental Magic aiming to win it this year!
None of them has any idea what is happening in the other Londons. Even Kell is not allowed to travel there any more. No messages are exchanged after the Black Night disaster. The King is being careful, but little does he know of the rising London and the force that comes with it.
My two beloved characters are now apart from one another. I really liked how Lila was developed in this book. We can see her full potential and in the same time her frivolity out in the open. She lives for today and a bit for her future dreams. She is reckless and fearless as if she has no notion of fear, but all she wants to do is live her life to the fullest and push herself until she sees her full potential. She has learned the hard life and loneliness of the Grey London streets so she is for her own self. She is afraid of commitment, afraid of bonding as it seems a weakness to her and not a strength. She prefers to rely on her own powers, instead of having to ask for help and when she does, she feels strange and doesn’t know how to handle it.
Kell is feeling so guilty and so responsible for everything that has happened, but he also knows that he is not the only one to blame. However he is the one that is on the receiving side of the punishment in the palace and also, many people in Red London hold him responsible for their beloved that were lost during the Black Night. The see him more like a monster than a God, as they used to see him in the past. This all situation has taken a toll on him and he has no idea how much more he can take. He was raised as a royal child, but he does not feel this way. It is now visible more than ever before.
I really enjoyed Lila at the sea. The relationships she has formed with the rest of the crew are towards one direction: do not get too attached, as you might need to flee. She is only close to captain Alucard Emery, who is also teaching her how to find her strength and her magic. My heart stayed with Kell throughout the whole book. His straggle was real. He is the orphan child that was raised by the royal family only because he is a rare Antari, a powerful possession and a great guard for the prince. His feelings are very clear and it is so easy to connect with him, as he leaves everything out in the open.
Holland’s story was not exactly what I had in mind when trying to consider what it would mean to throw him into Black London with the obsidian stone. But I did see some of it coming, even from the first book. The extend it went though was not what I imagined and therefore I was really happy to see it evolve.
The Elemental Games is a lovely addition to the story. It helps the reader understand how Elemental Magic works in Schwab’s world and how well it can be used in different circumstances. It also shows the potential of the characters and how far they could possibly reach. Lila’s impromptu decision to participate in the Games is a sign of how true she is to herself, as only a character like hers would take such a serious decision so lightheartedly.
I can’t wait to read the ending of the story, most probably next month!