Addictive and immersive, A Gathering of Shadows cements this series as a must-read. Rich details illuminate every dimension of an extravagant city flooded with magic, and intriguing personalities evolve into complex characters.
Shadows has a visible case of middle-book syndrome, with its slow build and lack of major plot movement. But that winds up being a relief. Magic introduced four separate worlds, and a few major, memorable characters. The sequel actually takes time between crises to let readers get to know them all better. It develops the immense internal stresses that will affect the more external battles to come, but it also builds a compelling portrait of life in a fantasy world that isn't constantly under siege.
Schwab, the Nashville-based author of the adult fantasy Vicious as well as several young-adult novels, has created a compulsively readable series that will have fans searching for news of the next installment.