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.
I really enjoyed the deeper look into Red London, and to an extent Gray London. Also, as is my favorite trend with second books, we saw so much more of the characters inner workings, and got to see them all change and grow and cope.
The characters are all still dealing with the consequences of the first book, all in different ways, and there is a clear change in all of them. Rhy is a bit more conservative, starting to take his future as king more seriously, and trying to live with the anger and guilt of what happened to he and Kell in the last book. He’s much more grown up. Kell is still broody and serious, but he has a definite edge to him now that wasn’t there before. He’s quickly growing tired of his role in the royal court and it’s interesting watching him deal with his loyalty to his country, his love for his brother, and his want a life of his own. Lila is still as reckless and badass as ever, but there is also an element of clam to her now. She seems to think things through a bit more – even if they are still crazy. Most of all, I loved when all of our characters were reunited and seeing the balance and honesty they provide one another. There were also several new characters that I really enjoyed and can’t wait to see more of.
I loved that while we got to see more of the Red London world, nothing really seemed bigger than London. A testament to Schwab’s writing is certainly her world building. It’s all vivid and clear, but you never feel bogged down by the descriptions or overwhelmed by all the places. I also really loved that our characters all got a break from the danger of the last book, while still facing challenges – both mental and physical – that pushed them to confront the demons of the last four months.
Schwab evoked a cliffhanger to finish this one – though the first in all her books – and I can’t wait to see what’s next. I have no idea how the group is going to handle the horror of what’s to come, which is going to make for one hell of a finale. I also can’t wait to see how the relationships change and develop between Kell and Lila, Rhy and the Captain, and ultimately Rhy and Kell.
Another amazing book from one of my go-to authors.