BOOK REVIEW | A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (3.5 stars)

conjuring-of-lightVerdict: A neat end to a great story, definitely worth the read but lacking the magnetism of the previous two novels. 

The novel picks up where A Gathering of Shadows ended; our heroes are in a bad place and the odds are stacked high against them. Osaron, the piece of magic who would be king, the piece of magic who thinks its a god, is free, and all surviving Londons – White, Red and even Grey – could pay the ultimate price.

[Mild spoiler ahead]

First of all, let me just say… I KNEW IT. Way back in 2015, when I first read A Darker Shade of Magic, I knew there was more to Lila than met the eye (pardon the pun). I’m sure I’m not the only one who came to this conclusion but dagnabbit I’m pleased I’m right!

[Here endeth the spoiler]

…Anyway, back to the story.

I love the world(s) Schwab has constructed. She’s built something solid and unique, tantalisingly familiar and enticingly exotic all at once. Every London has its own heartbeat and way of life; vibrant, exact and perfectly cohesive. Conjuring of Light delved deeper into those worlds, especially Red London, moving beyond the borders of the city into the outer lands and seas as our heroes take a journey in their efforts to defeat Osaron. Throughout the story, we find out more about the place Kell calls home, as well as more about the characters that fit – or do not fit – into that world.

The book will be hard to review without giving too much away, considering it is the final part of the trilogy, but I’ll try. Generally, Schwab’s characters were top-notch as usual. I loved finding out more about Holland’s background and life, what made him tick and why he made the decisions he did. That said, his background wasn’t the one I had imagined in my head, so it was somewhat disappointing to have some of my fanciful inclinations dispelled (obviously my problem, not Schwab’s). Likewise, some of the minor characters get a chance in the spotlight; I particularly enjoyed finding out a bit more about Lenos and Hastra. I love them both dearly.

And yet… I’m so used to giving Schwab 4 or 5 stars that I feel almost guilty for not rewarding this book the same. I enjoyed nearly everything about it, but I found the constantly shifting POV to be a real struggle and, in the end, it was to the detriment of its pace. Despite the vast scope of the story up until this point, I felt Schwab could have tightened the narrative to heighten the intensity. As it was, the entire book felt lacking in this respect, with too many perspectives giving the impression of trying to cover too much ground. For instance, I felt Alucard Emery’s POV added nothing to the story that couldn’t have been acquired from Rhy, Kell or Lila. Likewise, Maxim and Emira didn’t both need their own sections; Emira’s seemed at least a little important to the plot, but Maxim’s arc could have had the same impact if told through her or Rhy’s eyes. It seemed a shame that an otherwise brilliantly written book was slowed down by this when, as the final instalment in the trilogy, it should have been more intense.

That said, I still raced through it, as I am wont to do with Schwab’s novels. I gasped in all the right places, my heart shattered when all the wrong people died (I was very vocal about one particular death – so vocal I woke my partner up from a deep sleep). I loved all of Rhy’s choices regarding his mother, especially the last; I felt it showed the character growth I’d been waiting for. Lila, too, developed beyond her hard and thieving nature, without ever losing the things I love the most about her. Her ambition and daring during the final confrontation had me laughing in exasperation at how utterly perfect an idea like that was for her to have. And Kell was, of course, Kell… trapped with too many ties to the world around him; Rhy, Antari loyalty / fascination with Holland; his love for Lila; his temptation to leave it all behind… he’s his own wonderfully damaged creature and I just want to give him some hot chocolate and make sure he has a good night’s sleep.

I will confess though… and it’s probably a very unpopular opinion… I dislike Kell and Lila together romantically. I think they obviously belong together; they’re two sides of the same coin and they undeniably ‘fit’, but I’m just not convinced their relationship had to be romantic.

All in all, Conjuring of Light was a good and decent finale to a great story. Some people got the endings they deserved (good or bad), or they were brutally murdered, which is the way things happen in fantasy novels. Well worth the read, it tied (almost) everything up in a nice little bow, but left just enough scope and unfinished arcs for a welcome return to the world of Red London. I certainly hope to be reading a new set of Antari books soon.

If you’ve read A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows, read this book.

If you haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows, go buy them and read them, then read this book.


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