A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Once again V.E. Schwab wrecks me with the brilliance of her writing. Does this surprise anyone? Probably not.
She is rapidly becoming one of my all-time favorite authors, definitely an instabuy for me after reading both this series and her Villains series. Next up on my list to tackle is the Monsters of Verity Duology, so stay tuned for when I read it.
This book has to be one of the best and most satisfying series finales that I have ever read. The adventure, the characters, the stakes, the plot all had me reeled in with my attention dialed to 11.
Disclaimer: this book took me a stupid amount of time to read, just because I didn’t want it to be over, but once I did sit down to read it, it took two days. Alright, let’s get on with the review.
Okay… where to start?
This is the only warning: **SPOILERS AHEAD** DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK AND DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED
I have almost never been so thankful that I had this book on hand after finishing the one before it.A Gathering of Shadows left a gaping hole in me once I reached the end and I am so glad that I was able to immediately pick up the next book.
The plot hits you smack in the face–Victoria doesn’t pull her punches on this one. She dives right in, the stakes high from the very start of the novel. I love that about it. It was so refreshing to begin at the middle.
Osaron is such a high-stakes villain and the threat he poses, not just to Red London, but to Arnes and the world beyond, after seeing what he did to Black London, is so well done. He’s such a great villain and Victoria really does a great job in establishing him as such.
If you asked me at the beginning of reading A Darker Shade of Magic that I was going to absolutely love Holland, I would have never, ever believed you. I didn’t hate him, but I didn’t see him becoming a favorite of mine anytime soon. Well, you guessed it, this book completely changed that. I loved how involved he was in this book, how he was more than just a name or a figure in the background. I loved hearing his backstory, even if it made me cry a little bit. It was so heartbreaking to hear his journey, from a young boy who was blessed/cursed with this gift, to the hopeless, beaten-down man that we first saw in the first book, while he was under the control of the Danes.
I love anti-heroes and morally grey characters. And once again Victoria preys on that part of me and hits me straight in the chest with it. Holland is such a fascinating character. I cared for him. I cried for him. The parallels between his last chapter and his Black London chapter in A Gathering of Shadows broke me. The fact that he was relieved in death somehow made me even more upset. I’m just glad that he’s no longer suffering, that he managed to make a world better, even though it wasn’t his own.
Lila Bard remains one of my all-time favorite female characters by the end of this finale, but if that surprises anyone whose read this series, I’ll eat a dollar. She’s hilarious as always, with quippy one-liners that always kill me. Her badassery reaches new levels as she discovers her limits. Her development, her struggle with remaining in one place, with never getting attached is so real and I loved watching her fight the urge to run every time she felt she was getting too close. I was rooting for her and laughing with her.
Rhy’s POV in this book blew me away. Seeing the way he grew over the series, from the naive prince in the first book to the stately, brave one at the end of the series, was truly a fascinating journey. The levels to his character amaze me. Rhy is one of the bravest characters in this entire series, which is saying something, since the amount of bravery in these characters is immense. Rhy is definitely the character (besides Holland, who I wouldn’t say developed since we really just learned more about who he is, rather than watch him become someone else) who developed the most throughout the series. He really comes into his own in this book. I really enjoyed reading his chapters, whether I was laughing at some of his internal remarks or crying because of the struggles he’s forced to endure.
I don’t know if Kell will ever have the answer to his ever-remaining question, but I for one believe that something that cannot die can be considered alive. Well, if they’re someone as alive as Rhy, who is probably, despite having died, and arguably not alive or dead, is the character who is the most alive in this series.
I can’t talk about Rhy without talking about Alucard, and how pure his love is for Rhy. His determination to prove to Rhy that he does indeed love him made me tear up a little bit. I love their relationship so much.
In that final heartbreaking moment where Alucard is watching his sister die, I could feel his pain oozing across the page. In much of the same, in the moment where Alucard is fighting off Osaron’s control, trying his hardest to keep him out, this is perhaps the strongest we’ve seen him. When Rhy sat down next to him and held him as he fought, I swear I teared up a little bit.
And now, Kell. I love Kell so much. I love his dry humor and the way he argues with Alucard. It’s honestly hilarious. I also really love how much he cares about Lila. He’s so selfless and all he wants is to be selfish for once in his life and I don’t blame him. There’s so much weight on his shoulders, regarding Osaron, regarding the Inheritor, regarding Rhy. He’s carried so much burden throughout the whole series, the weight piling on as the books went on. He’s such a strong character. I love his relationship with Rhy, the easy brotherhood they have, despite not sharing blood. (view spoiler)[ though they do share life. At the end of the book when they said their goodbyes, I teared up. When they waved to each other as the boat pulled away, I sobbed. (hide spoiler)]
I can’t not mention this beautiful parallel. It really hit me right in the chest and made me wonder why I couldn’t breathe:
“Don’t get yourself killed.”
“I’ll do my best,” said Kell, and then he was going.
“And come back,” added Rhy.
Kell paused. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I will. Once I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?” asked Rhy.
Kell smiled. “Everything.”
I wasn’t a huge fan of Maxim or Emira in the first two books, though I knew, that they loved Rhy, that they were devoted to their country and did, at least, to some extent, care for Kell. This book definitely made them gain more respect in my eyes. Both of them had been so cold to Kell prior to this book and the way their treatment of him changed in this book was part of the reason why I liked them. That being said, I really enjoyed reading their POVs in this book. Hearing how they considered Kell to be family, seeing how they cared about their sons and their kingdom, though Emira was cold towards Kell during her POV at the beginning of the novel.
That they ended up dead, leaving Rhy alone to deal with all of the horror going on in London, broke my damn heart. I cried when the sword went through Rhy and into Emira. I couldn’t hold it in. Rhy’s reaction to when Maxim went outside the palace, screaming, fighting, was such a raw display of emotion. I think Rhy needs the biggest hug.
(view spoiler)[ I don’t want to even talk about Hastra… It… broke my heart. I saw it coming the moment he said to Kell that he was ready to be a priest.
I also really loved the political intrigue in this book, which is continued from the last book where we meet some of the royals, magicians and diplomats from the two neighboring kingdoms. It was really interesting to learn more about it.
I think that the book ended in a really satisfying way, and though I cried, I cried because it was over, because I didn’t want to leave this world. These characters. I love them all so much.
I don’t know what the next trilogy is going to be about, but I already can’t wait. I think it’s set for a 2021 release date? I don’t know, but sign me the fuck up. I can’t wait to step into this world again. In fact, I just bought the graphic novels. I can’t wait to see what the next trilogy brings these characters, but I hope they get a break and a few hugs because they deserve it.
I will definitely be back with another V.E. Schwab review.
Until then, I leave you with this,
“Anoshe was a word for strangers in the street, and lovers between meetings, for parents and children, friends and family. It softened the blow of leaving. Eased the strain of parting. A careful nod to the certainty of today, the mystery of tomorrow. When a friend left, with little chance of seeing home, they said anoshe. When a loved one was dying, they said anoshe. When corpses were burned, bodies given back to the earth and souls to the stream, those left grieving said anoshe.
Anoshe brought solace. And hope. And the strength to let go.”
View all my reviews