A Colorful End to an Amazing Portal Fantasy | “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab [Book Review]

Kell wore a coat that billowed in the wind.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.


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.

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?

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.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

My review for A Darker Shade of Magic

My review for A Gathering of Shadows

This series was an incredible adventure. This book was an incredible end to said adventure. There were definitely some ups and downs for me while reading them (mostly from books two and three – book one is practically perfect), but on the whole, I loved it.

A Conjuring of Light is the third book in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, and completes the initial trilogy (cuz there’s apparently gonna be another series?). It’s a whopping 624 pages, and was published by Tor Books on February 21, 2017. It’s an awesome historical fantasy series, and one with a take on the portal fantasy subgenre that I’ve rarely seen.

As I said above, I had some ups and downs with this novel. More ups than downs for sure, but I want to be entirely transparent and admit that there was some stuff that just didn’t jive with me (personally) here.

Stuff I Liked

Pure magic has no self. It simply is, a force of nature, the blood of our world, the marrow of our bones. We give it shape, but we must never give it soul.

For sure, the thing I loved the most about A Conjuring of Light was the thing I enjoyed most about the first two books: all the different Londons. It’s just so cool. I love the idea of four completely different worlds that only share one thing – the name of one city.

I also liked most of the characters. Kell, Rhy, and Alucard were just as fun and engaging to read about as before, and I loved the conclusions to their stories. Lila’s too, even though I didn’t much care for her as a character (but we’ll get into that), as her ending felt fine too. And Kell deserves to be happy so… yeah.

“What are we drinking to?”

“The living,” said Rhy.

“The dead,” said Alucard and Lila at the same time.

“We’re being thorough,” added Rhy.

Holland was a great character as usual, too – a rather “gray” kind of character despite being from “White” London. Get it? (*cough*) …Anyway, I really enjoyed his character arc, and all of the stuff we learned about his past, even if it felt a bit info dumpy at times.

Both the climax and the ending were also fantastic. The climax felt just as heart pounding as I knew it would, and the ending was wonderful. These two things really elevated the book for me, and made me end up loving the book.

Now, let’s get into the rant.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

Let’s start off with something similar to the last section: the Londons. Yeah, I know, I just said it was my favorite thing about the series. And it is. It’s just that after A Darker Shade of Magic it kind of became the Red London show, with only brief cameos from the other three. And I kind of didn’t like that.

Like, seriously, there’s only about four – very brief – scenes in this book where Grey London makes an appearance. That barely feels like it qualifies for historical fantasy fiction to me honestly. The Grey London plotline honestly felt useless in this book, and felt like it dragged on for waaayy too long, becoming irrelevant to the plot long ago.

White London also didn’t really make an appearance – compared to Red London, at least. Though it was the second most visited London of the book (though that’s not saying much).

And Black London didn’t appear at all. Which, fair, honestly. The only character “from” that London was no longer there anymore, so it was even more of an empty wasteland than it was before.

Now, let’s get into my second biggest gripe of the novel: certain character stuff.

Firstly, Lila Bard. She’s even more annoying than she was last book. Everyone thinks she’s amazing. Everyone has never met anyone like her before. Blegh. She’s the most Mary Sue character to Mary Sue in a book I’ve read since A Gathering of Shadows. Oh, wait…

Lila Bard was a force to be reckoned with. Whether her hands were filled with knives or fire, her voice low and coaxing or lined with steel, she seemed to hold the world in her hands. Maybe she did. After all, she’d already taken two Londons as her own. She was a thief, a runaway, a pirate, a magician. She was fierce, and powerful, and terrifying.

So yeah, she pissed me off. Again. But I just accepted that and powered through her chapters, and the bits in other characters’ chapters where they were staggered by her amazingness. Also, Kell deserved to be happy, so yeah.

So, now to the other thing that kind of irritated me about the characters as a whole: there were too many POVs. This is more of a me thing, but I just don’t like more than a few POVs in a book. It just annoys me a little, most likely because there’s just too many characters, and I don’t care about some of them, and I want to get back to following those that I enjoy. Nothing else against those characters or they’re POVs though.

And I really hated how many characters were killed off here. Like, really? Why? I just don’t understand when authors decide to off a bunch of the characters in the last book of their series. Even if it’s foreshadowed. It just doesn’t match the patterns of the other books, and it’s so many characters to the point where I feel nothing when they die.

And the last thing that annoyed me about this book (I promise) was the (admittedly very few) plot conveniences. There was really only one, honestly, but it kind of irritated me. I can’t say what it is, because that would be a spoiler, but it ended up affecting a major event in the plot. But, I have to admit, some people might not consider this to be a plot convenience, it might just be another me thing.

Final Thoughts

“Life isn’t made of choices,” said Holland. “It’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”

A Conjuring of Light was a very good end to one of my favorite series. Though it isn’t my favorite Shades of Magic book (that would be the first one), I didn’t like it any less than the second one (they’re tied) and it’s ended up being one of my favorite adult fiction series.

I definitely recommend this to fans of the Shades of Magic series as well as V.E. Schwab’s other works (some under Victoria Schwab). Fans of historical fantasy fiction might enjoy this as well.

Thanks for reading and have a great day/night! (I was feeling under the weather yesterday, which is why this wasn’t ready and posted then. Sorry.)

See ya ~Mar

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3 thoughts on “A Colorful End to an Amazing Portal Fantasy | “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab [Book Review]

  1. Great review! I’m so glad you enjoyed this series so much! I did too but it’s been so long since I’ve read it. I was laughing at your comments about Lila. I did like her but totally get your point!!

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