A Conjuring of Light


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genres: Fantasy
Read: June 2017

 

Yes! This book was everything that I wanted from this series!

This is the third and final book in the Shades of Magic series and disclaimer, there are a few spoilers in here (I can’t figure out how to hide them in wordpress…), so maybe best to wait until you’ve read the series for this review.

For some reason I had a hard time getting into the first two books in the series. I can’t really pinpoint why – I liked the characters and I thought the writing was good, but whenever I’d put the book down I never felt anything compelling me to pick it back up again.

A Conjuring of Light still took me a fair bit longer than normal to read, but it was because I was on vacation and not for lack of suspense! The story starts right where A Gathering of Shadows leaves off and the action completely draws you in right away. I still found the pacing a bit off in places, but overall, a very fast-paced and compelling story.

The characters were everything to me in this installment. Holland has fascinated me from the start and I was thrilled to finally get the full breadth of his backstory. What do other readers think of Holland because I thought the characters were quite hard on him – he had his faults, but I totally sympathized with him and I couldn’t blame him for Osaron. Kell questions whose actions set everything in motion – his decision to smuggle vitari into his own world, his decision to send Holland to Black London, or Holland’s deal with Osaron? I couldn’t condemn either of them, but it’s a powerful testament to the power of our choices, even tiny choices, to change and influence the world.

This story had a lot of depth and boy, was it dark. I never know what to expect from Schwab, she doesn’t hesitate to kill off characters, so it’s hard to predict how things will turn out. For example, she set the story up for us to hope that Holland would be able to trap Osaron in the inheritor, leaving Kell and Lila to pursue their own happy ending. And even though this is what happened, I really didn’t know which way things would go and I wouldn’t put it past her to have had either Lila or Kell take the fall.  I loved how each character had their own strengths and weaknesses. This was consistent in all 3 novels, and I liked that Kell and Lila looked out for each other and both came to each other’s rescue depending who was having a better day.

I’ve got to hand it to Schwab for her diversity of characters, a cross-dresser and a gay love story between two major characters seems like too much to ask for in a fantasy novel, so I loved seeing both of these elements play out in this series. There was a lot of sub-plots happening in this book and it was interesting to learn more about some of the minor characters. Lila is definitely my favourite character of the lot, but I enjoyed Rhy and Alucard’s story, and the insight into Rhy’s parent’s lives as well.

A Gathering of Storms was probably my least favourite of the 3 novels and felt a bit like a filler novel. In the scheme of things I didn’t think the Essen Tach was important and I was bored with the endless fight scenes. It was good character development and relationship building, but offered little in terms of the plot. The final book in the trilogy had it all though – a fast paced plot and a ton of character growth. A redeeming novel for me!

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A Darker Shade of Magic


Rating: 
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genres: Fantasy
Read: May 2017

 

I feel like A Darker Shade of Magic probably deserves more than 3 stars, but it took me a while to get into it. The book has a really interesting premise. There are 4 parallel versions of London: Grey London, Red London, White London, and Black London. Grey London is essentially our world and doesn’t have any magic. Red London is a vibrant world filled with magic, as was White London once upon a time. But Black London is also known as Dead London and the dark magic that destroyed it has slowly been leeching into White London.

Our main character, Kell, is an Antari from Arnes in Red London. Antari are the only people who can create doors and travel between the Londons. Kell acts as ambassador for the king of Arnes, travelling between London’s to deliver messages to the other reigning monarchs. On the side Kell is a smuggler, sneaking objects between Londons. But when he mistakenly transports a dangerous magical stone from Black London, he is forced to pair up with Lila Bard, a cross-dressing pirate from Grey London who is in great want of an adventure, to try and destroy the dark magic that begins wreaking havoc in Red London.

I was intrigued by the concept of multiple Londons and I really liked the diverse set of characters in this book, but I found this book to be pretty slow paced at the beginning and it wasn’t really until the halfway mark that I got into it. I was really busy while reading this one though, so I’m optimistic about the rest of the trilogy and I’ve jumped right into A Gathering of Shadows and I already think it has a much stronger start.

I loved all the characters in this book, from Kell and Lila, to Holland and the evil Dane twins. I really liked that Kell and Lila both has strengths and weaknesses and both helped each other out of scrapes. I felt like they both made so many bold and stupid decisions, but that it was realistic of two young people bumbling along trying to make the right choices and not be seduced by the power of the stone from Black London. They both had a lot of vulnerabilities and I enjoyed the honest portrayal of their characters.

I really hope Holland returns in the next book because I found his character fascinating and I would really love to learn more about his background. I liked Rhy too, but I feel I haven’t got to know enough about him yet either. Kell obviously loves Rhy and I’d like to know more about his character so that I can better understand their relationship.

There were a lot of plot points that weren’t addressed in the first novel and the story still has so much potential, so I am excited to see where it’s going to go in the next book. I’m hoping for something a little more fast paced, but I did still enjoy A Darker Shade of Magic. Onwards and upwards!