Book Review: Shades of Magic Series

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This week I finished A Conjuring of Light, the third installment of the Shades of Magic Series by V.E. Schwab. Wow. Just wow. There are so many things I enjoyed about this series. So, let’s start with the most important part of any story.

The Characters. I adored the characters. Not only are the characters themselves unique and entertaining, but their individual development and growth throughout the books are wonderfully strategic. Kell, the Antari from Red London that can pass from world to world (and one of the only few left) starts off the story mysterious, but rather stiff. Not necessarily stiff in a bad way, just an inflexible way. Kind of emo, determined, and content to carry burdens alone. Without giving away any spoilers, his characters opens himself up to vulnerability, love, and empathy. Lila, the thief from Grey London, while technically a trope (special snowflake/tomboy) was still amazingly refreshing! In most genres, tropes are unavoidable, but if done right can still be new and fun. Schwab does it right. Lila begins the story reckless, fearless, and very lost. She doesn’t have an anchor, or anything worth caring about, which makes her fun and different to read. By the time the story ends, she learns to stop running and allow herself to open up and care about those around her. Plus, I just loved her quick tongue and sharp words and her odd obsession with wanting to become a pirate. Holland, the Antari from White London. I don’t want to say much about him, but I REALLY enjoyed his character. I love when the line between good and evil are blurred, and Holland was an excellent example of that. Prince Rhy of Red London quickly became one of my favorites, especially given his growth over the span of the series. Genuine, slightly spoiled, yet generous and kind, he starts the story simply fun loving and boyish. By the time I turned the last few pages, be had become a brave, unselfish leader who no longer valued the things he once held so dear. Lastly Alucard, a good looking charismatic captain from Red London with witty banter and incredibly gifted with magic, but his character becomes so much more than that by the end of the books. His relationships with the other characters; his loyalty to Lila, love for Rhy, and distaste for Kell, seriously made the series for me. (Not to mention so many secondary characters that were wonderfully developed.)

The Worlds. This is absolutely my favorite thing about Schwab’s writing style. Her ability to create, detail, and explore multiple worlds in such a unique way. She draws things out, and tells you everything. Which I know drives some people crazy, but not me. I’d rather be told too much than not enough. But that’s just my preference. She describes everything lyrically, and she lets her writing set the tempo. In this story we have Red London, Grey London, White London, and Black London. Four different worlds that somehow all overlap with their version of London. Some worlds have magic, some don’t, and some have died because of it. Kell, as well as all Antari, can travel between the different Londons, which becomes complicated as something is found in one London that shouldn’t be there.

The Story. The story itself is full of adventure, love, witty banter, pirate ships, murder, magic tournaments, torture, cursed stones, travel between worlds, death, betrayal, and family. You get to witness brotherly love and kinship, wounded and severed love, romance rekindled and heartbreak. While the first 150 pages A Darker Shade of Magic took me a while to get into, once the story took hold of me, I couldn’t stop reading. Once the action and story starts, it doesn’t stop until the last page. You can see the planning that Schwab put into this story, the perfectly organized plot not going unnoticed.

Series as a whole: 5 STARS

If you like epic tales of Fantasy and haven’t read the Shades of Magic series, I would highly recommend them. V.E. Schwab has me as a loyal reader and I can’t wait until the continuation of the story with her next trilogy set in the Londons.

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