When the final Harry Potter book was released in 2007, I vividly remember borrowing $20 from my dad so that I could wait in line at midnight to purchase it. The entire drive home, I found myself hoping I would hit a red light so that I could pick up the book and begin reading it. As soon as I stepped out of my car, I opened the book and spent the next day fully immersed.
I began to panic as the pages flew by – this book marked the end of a series that I had been in love with for years. As much as I wanted to find out what would happen to Harry and company, I was loath to continue reading, knowing that to do so would mean completing the book. Sure, I could always reread it, but nothing would ever compare to reading a book I loved so much for the first time.
In the 10 years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published, I have yet to feel the same way about a book. Even Six of Crows, a duology that will always be one of my all time favorites didn’t stir such feelings. I honestly believed they were reserved for Harry Potter alone and would never return. But somehow, V.E. Schwab has made me feel like a 17 year old girl reading Deathly Hallows for the first time again.
Over the last 24 hours I have put down and picked up “A Conjuring of Light” more times than I can count. I purchased it in both hardcover and on my Kindle. I read it on my lunch break at work, while walking through the grocery store and during every spare second in between. Around page 500, however, I began to feel that familiar panic again. Although I didn’t want the series to end, I couldn’t put the book down, it had sucked me in completely.
The Shades of Magic series takes place in four different Londons – White London, Gray London, Red London and Black London. The four Londons contain varying degrees of magic and can only be traveled between by Antari – a rare breed of magician with the ability to perform blood magic. Over the course of the first two books, Schwab introduced her readers to the different Londons and their array of characters. At the end of the second book in the series, “A Gathering of Shadows,” the main characters were in precarious situations as a seemingly unbeatable villain finally made his big move. “A Conjuring of Light” picked up right where the second book left off.
The phrase “action-packed” took on a whole new meaning when applied to this novel. With the fast pace continuing from “A Gathering of Shadows,” the book never slows down. Even the flashbacks were thrilling and full of suspense. From one page to the next, I never knew what would happen.
“A Conjuring of Light” is told from many points of view. Normally I find this frustrating (more than three people telling one story gets confusing), but happened to enjoy in this series. Somehow, Schwab managed to make every narrator relatable, even Holland. Though I didn’t love him in the first two books, the glimpses Schwab gives into his past shed some light on his behavior. While books one and two primarily follow Lila and Kell, this book allowed readers to see into the minds of just about every major character, and even some secondary ones. I enjoyed that every story told, each shift in narration, and even every death served a purpose in the overall plot of the book.
The only disclaimer I have to offer is that this is not a series for those who dislike graphic violence. It is not a YA book, but an Adult Fantasy novel.
“A Conjuring of Light” made me realize that I have been lax in my ranking system. This novel has set the bar high for 5 star reviews, and will be the standard against which I measure all future fantasy books. For fans of the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology, this series is a must read – Leigh Bardugo herself recommends it.
My Rating: 5/5 stars