Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t read the first two Shades of Magic books then this review will contain spoilers for both as it’s the last book in the series. Also, there are possible minor spoilers for A Conjuring of Light in this review as well – read at your own discretion.
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.
THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.
“Arnesians had a dozen ways to say hello, but no word for good-bye.
When it came to parting ways, they sometimes said vas ir, which meant in peace, but more often they chose to say anoshe–until another day.”
Have you ever turned the final page in the last book of a series you’ve loved and then proceeded to burst into tears? Well, that’s the state I’m in after having finished A Conjuring of Light. I’m sitting here wondering what in the world V.E. Schwab has just done to me and how I’m supposed to write a coherent review. I don’t even know if I have the words to describe how much I loved this book! One thing’s for sure, this whole series took me on a magical roller-coaster ride of an adventure that I never wanted to get off of. And can I just say? THAT is how you conclude a series! The ending was perfect.
A Conjuring of Light picks up exactly where the torturous cliffhanger of an ending that was A Gathering of Shadows left off. Kell is trapped in White London, chained and his powers bound by Holland, while Rhy is slowly dying in Red London leaving Lila racing against the clock to get to White London so that she can save them both. Meanwhile, Holland has lost his battle against Osaron’s will and can now only watch as the magic uses his body to travel to Red London to reshape the world as its own. Osaron is a powerful piece of magic that thinks himself a god and will stop at nothing to have a world under his control again. As Red London begins to fall old enemies will become allies in the desperate fight to save the city and take down Osaron once and for all. Whereas the first and second novels in this trilogy slowly built in terms of pacing that wasn’t the case for this one at all. A Conjuring of Light will immediately sweep you away on a fast-paced, magical adventure full of suspense that will leave you unable to put the book down for anything.
“Myths do not happen all at once.
They do not spring forth whole into the world. They form slowly, rolled between the hands of time until their edges smooth, until the saying of the story gives enough weight to the words—to the memories—to keep them rolling on their own.
But all stories start somewhere.”
Something that has consistently been one of my favorite parts of this trilogy is the world building. V.E. Schwab built several incredible, complex worlds within the pages of these books. However, with the final book we’ve got the world down, we’re familiar with it and there isn’t much else to add. Except for a mysterious, magical black market in the middle of the ocean which I found really interesting. That aside, A Conjuring of Light really delved into the magic in a different way. And while we saw a smidge of what dark magic was capable of in the first novel that was nothing compared to how V.E. Schwab highlighted magic without balance in this one. We get to see the consequences of Osaron’s magic on Red London which made for a very horror-esque setting. I loved it and how V.E. Schwab wasn’t afraid to go there.
Then, of course, there are the characters who I’ve grown to love so much and didn’t want to say goodbye to. Hands down, some of the most well developed and memorable characters I’ve ever come across.
Kell has changed so much from the traveller with a smuggling problem we first met in A Darker Shade of Magic. He’s become someone who faces problems head on and has accepted the consequences of his mistakes. We see just how much he loves his family, loves Red London and how much he’s willing to sacrifice to save them. But most of all I loved how he realized that family is more than sharing blood.
“There were too many lives tangled up in hers. Too many people to care about, and once again, she didn’t know whether to stay or to run—but the choice would have to wait, because this city was dying and she wanted to save it. And maybe that was a sign she’d already chosen.”
Lila also changed so much from the thief we first met who just wanted to be a pirate and find adventure at sea. Although this is Lila we’re talking about, she’s still a thief who wants her pirate adventure. She’s also still stubborn and reckless, which I love. However, she finally stops running from the fact that she cares for others and embraces it, embraces the possible hurt it could cause her. I loved seeing her embrace that side of herself. In A Conjuring of Light, much like Kell, she steps up and is willing to do anything to help save Red London.
Also, Kell and Lila. Together. Is it possible that I ship them even more after this book? Yes, yes it is. All of their little moments sent me into a fangirling mess! Especially when they made each other blush.
Then there’s Rhy who I feel had the biggest character development out of them all. When we first met him, he came off as a character who was a mischievous, carefree flirt, however, we learn that underneath that is someone who cares so much for his people and wants to be a strong leader for them. A Conjuring of Light shows him struggling with a lot, possibly more than in A Gathering of Shadows, and it’s through that struggle that he becomes a strong leader. We see him embrace the consequences of the magic keeping him alive, embrace not having magic, and most of all see him realize there’s a strength in both of those things.
“You wanted him to kill for me, die for me, protect me at all costs. Well, Mother, you got your wish. You simply failed to realize that that kind of love, that bond, it goes both ways. I would kill for him, and I would die for him, and I will protect him however I am able.”
Again, I love the sibling relationship between Rhy and Kell. They both care for each other so much. A Conjuring of Light, in particular, showcases them standing up for each other and how much they believe in each other. Plus, there are flashbacks of little Rhy and Kell that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Then there’s my favorite privateer, Alucard, who went through so much in this book that I just wanted to hug him. I can’t say much because I don’t want to give too much away. However, we get a look into his past which I enjoyed. I love how his friendship with Lila grew. Then, of course, him and Rhy. I ship them so much! And I can’t not mention Alucard and Kell’s bickering. They were a big source of amusement for me. I’m pretty sure those two will never get along.
“On vis och,” he told himself.
Dawn to dusk. A phrase that meant two things in his native tongue.
A fresh start. A good end.”
And last but certainly not least, Holland. Throughout this trilogy I’ve been conflicted over him, at times liking him at times not. However, he became a character I loved and cried for in A Conjuring of Light. We get to see his past from when he was young to when the Danes took over. Through this not only do we gain more of an understanding of his character but also we get more of a look into White London. And the dynamic formed between him, Kell, and Lila was interesting to say the least. I enjoyed it.
Beyond those five there were actually a lot of other characters and POVs. I was pleasantly surprised by this and feel it added a lot to the book.
All in all, A Conjuring of Light was the perfect ending to an incredible trilogy. It had just the right amount of conclusiveness to make me happy and then the right amount of openness to leave me wondering. I can officially say that the Shades of Magic books will forever be an all-time favorite and that I’ll definitely be rereading them in the future.
Have you read A Conjuring of Light? What did you think? If not is it on your TBR?