Shades of Magic Series: Review
V.E. Schwab's epic fantasy series finally came to a conclusion and I will never be the same. There are three books in the series:
- A Darker Shade of Magic
- A Gathering of Shadows
- A Conjuring of Light
I didn't start reading the series until the final book, A Conjuring of Light, came out. I get really emotionally invested in the books I read, and I prefer to read all of the books in a series in one go if I can, to keep those feelings fresh. That's one of the reasons why I'm starting to get really annoyed at A Song of Ice and Fire, for example. Why was I rooting for Daenerys again? Wait, what happened to Arya again? Who's still alive?! When a series is split in this way, I just don't feel satisfied after reading just one. I know that there's a last book with a real conclusion and I won't be fooled by your cliffhangers. Back to the topic at hand, I loved these three books to death, and I can't wait to tell you why.
This is a SPOILER-FREE review!
If you're not familiar with the Shades of Magic series, let me set the stage for you. A Darker Shade of Magic introduces us to Kell, our reluctant hero. He is one of only two people who possesses the unique power to use blood magic and travel between worlds, called Antari. From the missions that his king and adoptive father sends him on, we learn about the different London's that exist. Red London exists in harmony with magic, and is therefore lush and prosperous. Black London was once brimming with magic, until its people let it devour them, and it now lays barren. Grey London is the one that we might recognize, where no magic exists and its people worship a singular god. White London is a frigid mountainscape, where its people kill each other to survive and its rulers hold the throne with cruelty and torture. Kell, our golden boy, lives in Red London, where he is recognized as an adopted prince to the royal family, Maresh. Giving the Antari the ability to open doors between worlds is a nifty mechanism to introduce us to drastically different settings without getting into tricky "parallel universes" territory.
Kell has a fascination with these different Londons and smuggles artifacts for collectors and enthusiasts scattered across the worlds, in exchange for trinkets like music boxes. On a trip to White London gone awry, Kell has a black stone thrust upon him, which we fantasy readers know to never be a good sign. And so begins his race through the London's, discovering the double-edged sword that is his magic and his status and meeting some unlikely allies along the way. I learned recently that V.E. Schwab wrote these books as a love letter to the Harry Potter series, and her magic and action sequences were inspired by none other than Avatar: The Last Airbender! So, there are tons of nature-bending action scenes, and Schwab does an amazing job describing them with fluidity and detail.
The best part of all is the amazing banter between some of these characters, and the way in which this fluid magic runs between the worlds doesn't compromise any of the characters' morals and loyalties. I honestly can't get enough of Kell and Delilah Bard, the thief and pickpocket that he meets in Grey London. She said that quote that you probably see everywhere on Etsy: "I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still." That pretty much sums up the ride readers are in for throughout the second and third books of the series.
And if you somehow made it through A Gathering of Shadows without ripping your hair out and dotting the pages with your tears- A Conjuring of Light picks up exactly where the second book left off. This epic conclusion to the Shades of Magic series is full of twists and turns and surprises, and oh boy- you're in for a treat. And lots of feelings, both good and bad. But most of all, you'll feel incredibly satisfied with the way V.E. Schwab concludes this epic story.
I like to rate series as a whole, since I believe the authors mean for them to be read that way. So, I rate the Shades of Magic 5/5 stars !
Have you read the series yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments!