It’s taken me longer than anticipated to finish this series mainly because I didn’t really love the second book in Shades of Magic as much as I did the first. Certain main characters in the second book just really got on my nerves, and we’ll leave it at that. So “A Conjuring of Light” sat on my shelves, waiting ever so patiently, for me to stop being petty and just finish the series. The third book picks up immediately after the second book, so if you’re like me and waited a while to return you’re going to need a bit of a refresher and recap before diving in, because the story doesn’t really allow for that right off the bat. But our main characters know from the start (or close to it) just what they face, and what will happen if they don’t deal with this threat, and atone for their own mistakes. Cue redemption arcs for everyone! Sure, some characters are redeemed more than others but I always love a good redemption. I love watching characters face the consequences of previous actions, and I love having those characters grow from the experience and strengthen their own relationships in the process. So, in a nutshell: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially compared to “A Gathering of Shadows”.
I love Schwab’s emotive writing, always have, always will, but it is one of those styles that you either love or hate and I get that. I personally tend to love it. Her writing is always emotional without coming across as redundant and I find that to be truly lovely, especially given all the POV characters we get in this book.
We get more backstory of what Holland endured before the Dane’s got to him and I loved seeing the brutality that is White London through his eyes before he became an unwilling puppet to Athos and Astrid. For a character who really messed up in his desire for freedom, these tiny flashback moments really helped to show just how tragic Holland always was and made him facing his consequences all the more impactful. Even Lila deals more with her grief this time and I really enjoyed watching her mature emotionally. She’s always been this “devil be damned” type character, but after my issues with her in book 2, let’s just say she really needed this character growth. Then there is poor Kell and Rhy, ugh, RHY. My heart constantly aches, breaks, patches itself up, and then breaks all over again for these brothers. Schwab has never been kind to them and the things they live through in this book is no different. So be prepared for the emotional rollercoaster this relationship will put you through. We also learn more about King and Queen Maresh and while I loved learning about the king and the sacrifices he made for his people, I can’t say the same thing for the queen… Either way, I can confidently say that this book is the most character driven of the three, which obviously shows in the sheer length of the story.
The plot can be a bit slow at times because of the POV shifts, some of which were not really that necessary, let’s be honest, but I didn’t mind them either. There are still some lingering questions about Kell and Lila’s origins which, now that Schwab has announced more books in this series may actually get answered. I think if I had read this earlier, when that new set of books in this world hadn’t been announced, the open-ended questions about these two main characters would probably bother me more, but such is my faith in Schwab that I trust her to not just leave those things open forever especially given where both Lila and Kell are at the end of this book. Additionally, Osaron didn’t feel as menacing as he was in “A Gathering of Shadows”. There was more tension prior to the final showdown with him then during the actual altercation which has me wondering if Schwab is up to something there was well, but we’ll see!
Was this book perfect? No. Was this series without its flaws? Also no. But does Schwab know how to write an amazing character driven novel full of rich personalities and emotive writing that can leave you gutted? Yes, an emphatic yes! Ultimately, that’s what makes me love this book in particular: Schwab’s writing and the way she made me care for characters like Holland with an intensity I didn’t think was possible. I still think I may wait a bit to see what’s up with the new books in this series before diving in, because if certain arcs don’t get more attention, and certain questions aren’t answered, I may come back and change this rating. But for now, this is a very comfortable 5 star read for me with a satisfying conclusion to the first trilogy in this series.
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