“It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited
by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as 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 neighbouring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port. And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.”
Sadly, this didn’t do it for me. I don’t want to sit here and trash it, because I honestly thing V. E. Schwab is an amazing author, her world building is flawless in this book and her characters are like real people, so 3D and well thought out that you know how they will react in certain situations before you are told, which is a good thing. Unfortunately I thought the book suffered from ‘Sequel Syndrome’. As you may be aware I have many thoughts on the effects of ‘Sequel Syndrome’ and I won’t get in to them again, but basically I thought it was a bit slow, I was enjoying the world building and the character building when I realised I was 300 pages in and actually nothing had happened. It’s a shame and I feel kind of guilty that I didn’t like it. That’s weird right? Why do I feel guilty? I don’t know the author, I don’t know the publisher. I just didn’t like the sequel to a book that I enjoyed. That’s allowed. Maybe I feel like I’m betraying Kell and Lila by not enjoying their second adventure? Weird.
Honestly though, the world building in this (and everything I’ve ever read by Ms Schwab) is spectacular, there is an entire world in these pages that is as real to me as China; i.e. somewhere I know exists but have never visited. The characters are engaging and unique and diverse, they all have something to offer and they are all interesting to read. I have said before that one of Schwab’s many strengths is her character creation. I’m trying to find ways to say ‘This book is good, I just didn’t love it’ without sounding like an idiot or hating on the book, I think I’m failing so I’ll leave this here. It’s a very enjoyable world to meander into, but I didn’t really feel the need to stick around for the ride. 3 Stars.