A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab
|Book Name:||A Conjuring of Light|
|Author:||V. E. Schwab|
|Publisher(s):||Titan (UK) / Tor (US)|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook|
|Release Date:||February 21, 2017|
Spoiler Warning: To the extent possible, I have done my best to minimize spoilers for the entire Shades of Magic trilogy. However, this is a review of the third book in a trilogy, so some details might have been inadvertently revealed. If so, I apologize in advance.
When V. E. Schwab recently visited the Washington, D.C. area as part of her A Conjuring of Light book tour, she mentioned that her publishers briefly considered splitting this book into two volumes. Instead, everyone agreed to shrink the book’s margins. In other words, this is a 700+ page book shrunk down to just over 600 pages. Thankfully, Schwab writes in a, as she put it, “cinematic style”—brief, action-packed scenes and quick cuts propel the page-turning story forward. In the end, A Conjuring of Light becomes a TARDIS-like cookie jar, packed with way more goodies than you’d think possible. I devoured this book, only slowing towards the end to savor those last morsels.
A Conjuring of Light begins pretty much where the second book in the trilogy, A Gathering of Shadows, ends. As Londoners celebrate the conclusion of a magical tournament, a powerful being of dark magic is moving from one alternate London to another, threatening to consume and smother the vibrant magic of Red London. Our cast of characters—Kell, the powerful, world-hopping magician; Lila, the thief, pirate, and quick study magician; Rhy, the rakish prince whose life is bound to that of his brother, Kell; Alucard, magician, Lila’s captain, and Rhy’s former lover; and Holland, the cold, tortured, and powerful magician—face rooftop battles, adventures on the high seas, and a floating back market filled with forbidden items to find a way to take down a bit of sentient magic that thinks it’s a god.
A Conjuring of Light is what I look for in the third book in a trilogy. I want extreme danger, I want full-throated action, and I want to see profound changes in characters. This book has all three. The danger is cataclysmic, threatening to destroy nearly everyone and everything in Red London, and worthy of an epic fantasy climax. Mysteries hinted at in book one are finally revealed, and the consequences of those mysteries are explored in depth.
But as much as I enjoyed the set piece sequences, I was most impressed with the characters and their growth over the series. In book one, Kell begins confident, if not cocky, but by the end of the story, he has become more grounded, more humble. Lila, who began the story wanting nothing more to run away to the open seas, has learned to also love and to form attachments (while still retaining her affinity for barely restrained chaos). Rhy has matured and earned the crown. Alucard has discovered the power of revealing secrets instead of hoarding them. And Holland, oh Holland. Schwab reveals his history, subverting my original impression of him and making his arc, his pain, his tragedy far more significant.
I liked that the struggles of this book left their marks. Things didn’t go back to the way they were. Schwab never shies away from hurting or killing her characters so such an ending would be impossible anyway. This book hurt, and it stuck with me—testament to Schwab’s ability to tell a story. It makes me so happy to see an author stick the landing, even if the ending makes me feel so sad to say goodbye to these characters, this world.
A Conjuring of Light is a deeply satisfying, if bittersweet resolution to the Shades of Magic trilogy. For those readers who don’t start a series until the last volume is complete, consider this your green light. You’ve got quite an adventure ahead of you. And for those readers who are only learning about the Shades of Magic trilogy, well, get reading now—before the television series airs.