I first discovered VE Schwab through her book The Archived, under her YA name Victoria Schwab, which I reviewed here. Her style was so reminiscent of Garth Nix, who had a huge influence on my childhood and my own writing, and was unlike anything I had read since I’d devoured his series’s as an enamored ten-year-old. I didn’t think Schwab could get any better, but, of course, she DID.
I breezed through A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows when I first discovered them back in October and instantly pre-ordered a signed copy of A Conjuring of Light which I have never done before.
The four alternate Londons Schwab develops treads a parallel line to convention high fantasy, yet is unlike anything I’ve encountered before. The series delves into alternate reality and touches on historical fiction, without losing the magic of fantasy. On top of her fascinating world (or four worlds, I should say), Schwab’s characters are undeniably compelling, and it is the fears, desires, and complex relationships between Kell, Rhy, Holland, Alucard, and Lila that truly kept me reading.
After the cliff hanger ending of A Gathering of Shadows, I was a little disappointed by A Conjuring of Light, which seemed to get bogged down in melodrama and excess phrasing. There were a number of chapters and perspectives that I thought could have been omitted and retained the integrity of the story, especially since this is a monster of a book, topping off at over 600 pages. Although, I did enjoy catching more of a glimpse into the lives of Maxim, Emira, and particularly Holland. That aside, there are moments when the prose is beautiful, lyrical, and haunting in a way I will not soon forget.
Lila is still by far my favorite character–she is the only perspective who’s tone is never swallowed by melodrama, which is hilarious considering she is one of the only female main characters. What’s up with all these angsty boys? She is a breath of fresh air after Rhy’s pining, Kell’s fretting, and Holland’s angst. Plus, she remains just as kick-ass, if not more so, than ever. Her banter with Alucard, Kell, and even Holland kept me grinning to the end.
The overall arc of the trilogy was excellent, spanning from a narrow focus on Kell and Lila in A Darker Shade of Magic, to epic, worlds encompassing fantasy. Despite some wordiness in the third book, I highly recommend this series to all fans of adventure and fantasy. Certain final scenes made me wonder if there will be a fourth book, but the ending was closure enough for now. I suppose we just have to wait and see.
Apparently, the rights to A Darker Shade of Magic has been bought for a limited TV series which has no air date as of yet, but I hope it happens soon. I would be very interested to see how this gets adapted.