A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) Review

ACOLBook: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

Author: VE Schwab

This was my most anticipated read of 2017, aside from the last Throne of Glass book, although that book’s release date has now been pushed back (don’t even get me started on that!), so naturally I was equal parts nervous and excited to read this. Excited because I couldn’t wait to see where these characters that I loved so much ended up and nervous because I knew this book was going to break my heart, I didn’t want this series to be over and I was worried it might not be as good as I was expecting it to be. Fortunately, this book was everything that I wanted it to be and more. The characters were as sassy and wonderful as ever, the fight scenes were on point, the intensity was sky high, the villain was suitably creepy and the heartbreak was definitely there. It was, all in all, the perfect conclusion to this series. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
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.

(Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the first two books, so if you haven’t read those, turn away now).

You are thrown straight back into the action, the book picks up exactly where A Gathering of Shadows left off, so I would recommend perhaps rereading at least the end of the second book before picking up this one, even I had to flick to the back of the book just to remind myself what had happened.

I was glad that the cliffhanger involving Lila at the end of the last book was relatively quickly resolved, I was worried that Schwab was going to torture us with that reveal through the whole book so I’m glad it’s resolved within the first few pages.

The intensity throughout the first part of the book was incredible, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. In general, I was really impressed by the pacing of this book, it’s hard in a book over 600 pages to keep a reader’s attention for the entire time, but I felt the pacing in this book was perfect, fast paced in all the right places, slow when it needed to be. I never felt bored, I was always so excited to pick the book up and see what happened next, so hats off to Schwab for that, because keeping me engaged throughout an entire 600+ page book is no easy feat! So much happens in such a short space of time and it really feels like it when you’re reading, the pages just fly past!

I loved the flashbacks in this book, we get to see little Kell and little Rhy which was awesome in itself, but also Holland’s backstory was completely fleshed out, which I absolutely loved because I wasn’t expecting that in this book. I especially liked getting to see Kell and Holland meet, that was probably my favourite of the Holland flashbacks.

I loved all the sass in this book, the characters are also so snarky and Schwab has created such brilliant dynamics between them all, there’s not a character relationship that I don’t love, there’s the obvious ones like Kell/Rhy, Rhy/Lila and Rhy/Alcuard, but also the dynamics between Holland/Kell, Holland/Lila, Alucard/Kell, Alucard/Lila, they’re all so fantastic, they feel like real people interacting and not just characters on a page.

I loved all the Alucard/Rhy scenes, they are definitely my OTP for this series (much as I also enjoy Lila/Kell), their scenes were just all so adorable, and I loved getting to see more of them together in this book. I also loved that we got a little Lila/Kell as well, subtly so it didn’t overpower the rest of the book (this is one of my favourite things about Schwab’s writing, the romance is always the background), but just enough to know that they’re both interested. There’s also a very steamy scene that I’m sure other Lila/Kell shippers will get very excited about (it’s a really good scene guys!).

I’m not going to lie, the body count in this is HIGH! A lot of people die, and yet Schwab manages to make each death as hard hitting as the last. I’m glad she didn’t shy away from that in this book, it’s a battle, people are going to die.

The villain of this book Osaron was brilliant! He was so creepy, his presence so pervasive throughout the book that you couldn’t help but be scared of him. I can’t quite decide if he or The Dane Twins were the better villain, but suffice to say, Victoria Schwab writes excellent villains.

I liked that we got to see Emira and Maxim’s backgrounds a bit more in this book, it was nice to see them fleshed out as more than just the King and Queen of Arnes. It was nice that they both had more of a role in this book as well.

Rhy really came into his own this book, I’m amazed at how strong he’s become over the past three books, and it really shows here. He’s not relying on Kell to save him, he wants to do things himself and really get in on the action. He’s grown so much feistier, he knows what he wants and he gets it and I just loved every scene with him in it in this book. All of the characters are amazing, my favourite is still Lila, but Kell, Alucard, Holland and Rhy are awesome as well and like I said earlier, the dynamics between the group are just perfect.

I wish that the immunity deal with the silvers had been explained, I get that they were immune to Osaron but I would have liked to have known exactly why.

All of the action scenes throughout the book were amazing, Victoria Schwab definitely has a knack for writing action, the pace is always perfect, they are always riveting and vivid, it’s like watching a movie, the scenes just leap off the page. The final battle in particular was probably one of the best action scenes I’ve ever read.

I love Schwab’s writing, she doesn’t overdo it on the description, it’s not flowery prose, it’s simple but also really beautiful at times. I like that her focus is more on the character interactions than flowery descriptions as that’s exactly what I love. There were a few typos though, which I found a little jarring, although I guess that’s more of an editing problem than a writing problem. There was a particular quote that felt very meta, that I just loved.

There was one thing that nagged at me slightly, it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book, but it just confused me a little, I thought Lila had already met the King and Queen at the end of ADSOM? But there’s a scene in ACOL where she’s with them and they act like they don’t know who she is? I get that a lot of time has passed, but Lila is pretty memorable? Like I said, it didn’t bug me, it just confused me.

I liked that things from the first book, like Lila’s empty map came back and had importance in this book, I love it when authors add in tiny details like that and they come back in later books.

All of the Kell/Rhy scenes made me so happy, their brotherly relationship just warms my heart so much. I love seeing strong sibling relationships in books and Schwab does this very well.

I liked how everything came together, there were a lot of seemingly random things introduced into the plot through the book and I kept wondering how all these things were going to tie together, but they all came together seamlessly. That’s one of the things I love about Schwab’s writing, everything has a purpose, nothing is random and all the plot threads even the seemingly unrelated ones come together in the end.

I loved that we got to see more of Alucard’s past and family in this book, especially as it led to one of my favourite parts of the book, when they were all on the black market pirate ship. Maris was pretty awesome, if a little creepy, and her interaction with Lila was just the best. Also I really want to go to the Ferase Stras because all the stuff Maris has seems pretty awesome.

The binding rings were amazing, it was so cool to read about them and just added another layer of awesomeness to the already amazing magic system in this book.

There were quite a few twists through the book that I wasn’t expecting and nothing about it ever seemed predictable, I liked that I was kept guessing what would happen right up until the end of the book.

The ending, oh the ending. Physical tears people. I am the girl that never cries at books and there were physical tears this time. The entire last part was just so bittersweet, there was cute stuff to be sure, but there was also heartbreaking stuff and just having to say goodbye to these characters and watching them say goodbye to each other was hard okay? I loved that things came full circle, with lines from the first book being repeated and overall it felt like everyone ended where they needed to be, which was great.

I really only have one thing left to say to end this review in the perfect way:

Anoshe guys. It’s been one hell of a ride. For all of us.

My rating: 5/5 for a stunning series conclusion.

My next review will be another VE Schwab book, as I’m reading This Savage Song for my March #RockMyTBR read.

 

 

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A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)

a gathering of shadowsBook: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)

Author: VE Schwab

I was so excited to read this book after reading A Darker Shade Of Magic because I loved that and even more excited after I met Victoria at YALC, it’s safe to say I had high hopes for this one. I am happy to say that I really enjoyed it (even if the end is making me mad!), I didn’t love it as much as the first one but I still really enjoyed it and am incredibly excited for A Conjuring of Light (if we could magically transport February so it comes sooner I would really appreciate that. I mean seriously that ending was cruel. CRUEL I TELL YOU! (Sorry I have many feelings about the end of this book, this may be the most difficult spoiler free review I’ve ever written). Here is a short synopsis of the book:

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. (Okay, so it’s maybe not so short)!

The first thing I have to say about this book is that the characters are still amazing. My favourite of course is still Lila, I mean don’t get me wrong, she does some stupid stuff and most of the book is you in your head going “Lila, no!” and Lila going “Lila, yes” (which I think is a pretty accurate description of the rest of the characters’ reactions to Lila in this book as well to be honest) but she is still one of the most badass, complicated, intriguing female characters I’ve ever read about and I love her, she’s probably one of my favourite female characters I’ve read about. I loved getting to see her use magic in this book (her magic is so cool) and I also appreciated that VE Schwab used flashbacks showing her learning magic, because you get to see that she didn’t find it so easy and she really hard to work hard, which I liked.

I found that I had a new found appreciation for Rhy in this book. We didn’t really get to see much of him in ADSOM, but this book shows him at his best, you get to see just how charming and lovely and funny he is (which we got hints of in the last book) but also how clever he is. I don’t want to spoil it but basically there’s this scheme involving Kell and the Essen Tasch (Element Games which I will talk about a little later on in my review) that really shows off how smart Rhy is. I also loved getting to see more of the brotherly bond between Kell and Rhy in this book and liked that Schwab explored the effects of what happened to them both in the last book in this one (I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t read the first book, so I can’t say!). I loved how great Rhy is at languages, I could connect with that as I was quite good at languages when I was at school.

I felt really bad for Kell in this book. The events of the last book have had some severe consequences for him in that the King and Queen blame him for what happened and it wasn’t even really his fault (not completely anyway). Basically, I spent most of this book wanting to give him a hug. I felt like he was a lot more sombre and serious and less sassy in this book but it fitted with the tone and I still really liked him and I feel like we got to see even more of the extent of his powers in this book which was cool. I also loved how fiercely protective he was of Rhy (and of Lila), and they was a funny moment with him and Rhy that I particularly loved.

I don’t want to go as far as saying I liked the new character Alucard, because I feel like that would be stretching it (I don’t entirely trust him, he’s a little shifty) but I thought he was intriguing and he filled the mentor character for Lila quite well. I look forward to seeing the full extent of his powers because although we get to see quite a bit, I still feel like he’s more powerful that he lets on. I’d also like more of Kell’s grudge against him to be explored because it was touched on but I feel like there could be more to it. I’d like to see some flashbacks with his relationship with Alucard because the one scene they had together was steamy and I like to see more! I also appreciate that there wasn’t really romance between Alucard and Lila (aside from one kiss, though their chemistry was hot!).

There is some progression with Lila/Kell’s relationship, but not so much that it took over the book which I liked. I actually would have liked to seen Lila and Kell interact more, they’re apart for most of the book. However the ball scene was amazing and there were some other great Lila/Kell scenes through the book, so I think I can forgive VE Schwab for keeping them apart for most of the book. I love that it’s so obvious to everyone but them that they like each other. I also liked the similarities between Kell and Lila in terms of their longing for freedom and how you would expect that Kell has more freedom because he’s an Antari and can go anywhere but it’s actually Lila.

The White London storyline I think was the weaker aspect of this book probably because only one chapter of each part was dedicated to it and it didn’t really tie in to the story as whole until the end. I have a lot of questions about the new character in this part, Ojka and who she actually is as it’s not really explained. I liked that it tied in at the end but for the most part it didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story.

I’m interested as to what might be happening in Grey London, we get to see glimpses of it during the book and there’s a possibility that magic may not be as dead there as it might have seemed and I’m very excited to see where this goes in the next book. Having said that, I liked that most of this book took place in Red London, it was fun to learn about all the cultures and customs and other parts of the Red World such as Faro and Vesk. I also liked getting to see the Veskan and Faroan royal families.

I loved that we finally got to see a glimpse of Black London in this book, it was very creepy and I hope we get to see more of it in the next book.

I really liked Calla in the last book and I was excited that we got to see her again in this one. She’s like the book manifestation of us readers fangirling about Lila and Kell and I loved it.

I wasn’t expecting to like Kell’s new guards, but Hastra was quite cool and I loved his magic, it was cool seeing another priestly character aside from Tieren. He was actually quite interesting and I’d really like to get to learn more about him if possible in the next book (Honestly Schwab could do a whole new series about some of the side characters in these books-and I hope she does!). I also found it very cool when I found the quote that VE Schwab had written in my book when she signed it in the actual book and learnt what it meant-Stas Reskon-which means chasing danger (otherwise known as the perfect description of Lila).

This book is very character driven rather than plot driven, I will warn you know for those who are plot driven readers (like me) but the characters are so well drawn that this works for it. Even so I did find myself getting a little restless at times for the real action to start (which when it does it steamrolls on!), so I will warn you now, this is not a fast paced book. Even so, Schwab writes the action scenes of this book very well, it’s all edge of your seat nail-biting stuff. Especially the Essen Tasch, I loved that, all of the fight scenes were made even more amazing because of the magic. I need more magic tournaments in my life people!

There were several typos and slightly misphrased sentences in this book, which don’t usually bother me too much, but it does jar you a little when you come across them. I know this is more of an editing problem and there weren’t many typos, only about four, but more careful proofreading is needed!

Maxim is kind of an ass in this book (the Queen isn’t great either but it was more noticeable in Maxim) and I hated how he treated Kell. I get he’s worried for his son but it wasn’t entirely Kell’s fault what happened in the last book, so I thought his treatment of Kell was a little out of order.

I found it so funny when Lila was trying on a dress for the ball, she was so uncomfortable, it was hilarious!

THAT END! OMG THE END! VICTORIA SCHWAB HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME, YOU ARE AN EVIL GENIUS AND I LOVE/HATE YOU FOR IT! I CANNOT BE LEFT HANGING LIKE THAT FOR MONTHS! NOT COOL SCHWAB, NOT COOL! I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED, I HAVE TO KNOW! I CANNOT WAIT TILL FEBRUARY, IT’S GOING TO KILL ME. THIS MAY BE THE MOST EVIL CLIFFHANGER I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED AND I READ RICK RIORDAN’S BOOKS!  (sorry mini rant over.If my reaction is a spoiler I am sorry but I have feelings and I cannot hold them in damn it!).

Basically I need A Conjuring of Light. Like now.

My rating: 4/5

I am not sure what my next review will be as the next book I’m reading is a review book and the review won’t be post until 20th September at the earliest, so it depends what else I read between now and then.

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

ADSOMBook: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

Author: VE Schwab

I have been hearing so much about this book in the last year or so, and nearly everything I heard about it was good, and the concept sounded exactly like something that I would enjoy, so I just had to pick it up. I was slightly nervous because of all the hype, usually hyped books cannot help but disappoint me. However, I am happy to say that this wasn’t the case with this book, I really enjoyed it, in fact it’s one of my favourite books of the year so far. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

I guess the best place to start with this book is the characters. I loved Kell, he was sassy but also lost and flawed and feeling out of place and he was just so cute and you wanted to just give him a hug and yet high five him at the same time. He’s mysterious and charming and defiant and protective and magical…..and I just love him okay, the guy is awesome. I have definitely added him to my list of book boyfriends. Rhy was cute and precious and I loved his charm and wit and just everything about him, I hope there is more of him in the next book because there wasn’t really enough of him in this book. I loved the relationship between him and Kell as well (they’re brothers), the banter between the two of them was great and I’m hoping for more of it in the next book. One lingering question about Kell is how he lost his memory (it’s mentioned right at the very beginning that he doesn’t remember anything about his life before he came to live with the royal family, which makes sense given that he was young at the time but as it’s a fantasy book, I feel like there must be more to it, plus he has a mark that is indicated to be connected to his memory loss, so I’ll be interested to see what’s up with that). Plus I love Kell’s magical coat (it has many sides and can basically turn into whatever coat he wants), and I want one myself! It would save having to pick out the right coat to go with your outfit, if you had multiple coats in one!

However my absolute favourite character has to be Lila Bard. She was a total BAMF. She’s a female pirate which on it’s own is awesome, but she’s reckless and cheeky and mischievous and funny  and determined and feisty and brave and basically everything that I love in a female character. I liked her back and forth banter with Kell, they had a great dynamic and I actually liked that it didn’t develop into romance, I mean they are definitely shippable and there are a few romantic moments, but they were great as friends, they had each other’s backs and they worked really well together, so I wouldn’t be disappointed if they remained just friends (equally, I wouldn’t be opposed to them becoming a couple either). There was really barely any romance in this book and I found that refreshing, it’s nice to be able to just focus on the story, without any romantic subplot distracting from the main plot. I loved the first meeting between the two of them in particular, it was so perfectly done.

The villains were also very well drawn. The Dane Twins (rulers of White London) were psychotic and power hungry and made me flinch every time they appeared on the page. Holland was complex, he was hollow and evil and the perfect foil to Kell and yet he was enslaved by the Danes and you couldn’t help but feel sorry for him at the same time, he was dark and complicated and generally quite fascinating, I would totally love to read a Holland backstory (in fact a backstory of any of the characters in this book would be great).

It took me a while to get used to the structure of the book, it’s separated into different parts and the parts each have a small number of chapters (between 3-6) and that’s quite different to anything I’ve ever read before, but once I got used to it, it flowed quite well. It was relatively slow paced to start off with, but I didn’t even mind that, because the writing was so engaging and the characters were so interesting and once the pace picked up, it really didn’t let go (considering that the whole book took place over the span of just a few days!). There were some great action sequences, particularly towards the end.

I loved the magic in this book, it was so different to the way that magic is done in any other book that I’ve read, it felt alive, like magic was another character in the book and I really loved that, it really brought the setting to life. All the magic was so cool, the Antari magic, the stone magic, everything, it was great.

The world building was amazing, all the worlds felt so different, I loved all of the different Londons (my only gripe would be that we didn’t get to see Black London), the setting of 1819 felt really authentic and I think it fit really well with the world. All of the Londons felt different and I loved the different cultural aspects, different languages, settings, degrees of magic etc. Everything in this book felt so alive, I loved that!

I particularly loved Part Eleven with the masquerade, what can I say, I love the idea of people dressing up in costumes and having masks and not knowing who people are and it makes a great setting for sneaking around!

There were some twists in the book that I wasn’t expecting and I found them really interesting and really well done.

Kind of off topic but there was a merchant called Calla in this book and that made me think of Calla from The Raven King which made me laugh!

The writing was very engaging and I really enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s writing style, as I’ve said, it felt like everything came alive, the setting, the characters, the magic and I think it takes a very special author to do that. Sure there were a few typos and grammatical errors, but that’s an editing issue and honestly, it never really bothers me unless it’s incredibly frequent (which it wasn’t).

It’s pretty clear from the start that Lila is not normal and whilst I’m not going to give anything away, I definitely have theories and I’m excited to see if any of them come true in the next book. I’ve also been looking at other theories which make me very excited. Basically lots of theories going round!

Everything seemed pretty well wrapped up at the end, but there are still lots of things to be revealed and I’m really excited to read the next book and find out what happens next and hopefully catch up before A Conjuring of Light comes out next year! Basically this book is awesome, the world is great, the characters are great, the writing is great, you must pick it up and read it right now if you haven’t already.

My rating: 5/5

The next book I review will either be Look Who’s Back (my #RockMyTBR read for July) or of Nevernight (my current e-ARC that I’m reading).