Book Review: A Conjuring of Light – V. E. Schwab


Title: A Conjuring of Light (2017)
Series: Shades of Magic – Book 3
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Fantasy
Extent: 624 pages
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike.

The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.


A Conjuring of Light, unsurprisingly, is probably my most anticipated release of the year. I have been completely enamoured by the characters and the magic ever since I picked up A Darker Shade of Magic last year, and the ending in A Gathering of Shadows just about killed me. While this series has some flaws, there’s just something about it that pulls me in and transports me into a whole new world when I’m reading it. It’s pure escapism.

Unlike the previous books in this series, A Conjuring of Light starts right in the middle of the action and wastes no time diving into the plot. You don’t really get a chance to rest as the protagonists and villains gear up for that final confrontation. Fortunately, we’re gifted smatterings of humour in the midst of all the chaos, thanks to the banter between the characters:

“What are we drinking to?”
“The living,” said Rhy.
“The dead,” said Alucard and Lila at the same time.
“We’re being thorough,” added Rhy.

One of my favourite things about the Shades of Magic series is for sure the magic. I’ve always been a fan of more… scientific or logical magic, shall we say, and I think Schwab has developed a world that’s actually consistent. In this way, she forces her characters to take the hard way out, never once making it easy for them that victory actually feels impossible in some moments. Her writing, too, is smart and snappy as always, perhaps more action-packed than usual due to the plot.

Yet despite the world-building, despite the magic, despite the writing… the characters are what truly shines throughout this whole series and particularly in this book:

  • Kell’s concern for Rhy is extremely touching and I really appreciate that it was reciprocated in equal measure — despite the difficulties that these two have, they are unquestionably brothers and would do absolutely everything to ensure that each other is safe.
  • Rhy has really, really grown. I’ve always liked him but I didn’t love him until here; he really took charge and ‘came of age’, so to speak.
  • Emira and Maxim, the King and Queen, played a bigger role in this book. I particularly appreciate Emira’s dedication to being a mother (as opposed to just a queen) and Maxim’s dedication to being a king (as opposed to just a father) — it provided a very interesting contrast that made me think.
  • Holland’s life is so, so tragic. I just want to wrap him up in a warm, thick blanket and give him a cuppa so he could finally breathe.
  • Lila has had to be a badass in a different way in ACOL. I’m so proud of her for rising to that challenge and finally developing some… attachments.
  • Kell and Lilaoh my god.

I really only have one major gripe with ACOL: while it’s pretty thick, it avoids answering some questions I have about the characters even though it has plenty of chances for doing so. Instead, that space is taken by extraneous POVs from tertiary characters that I don’t think really added anything to the plot. I get that loose ends can be ‘realistic’, but I want answers, damn it!

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

I’d say this, however: that ending is just about as perfect as I think it could be. It’s exactly what I imagined for the characters and yet still unfolded in a way that pleasantly surprised me. In the end, this whole series has been such a wonderful, magical ride — I know I’d be rereading it again and again in years to come.

53 thoughts on “Book Review: A Conjuring of Light – V. E. Schwab

  1. Fantastic review, Reg. I am almost done with A Conjuring of Light and I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to care for Holland before this. Poor little bean, he needs a cuddle, that tormented soul.

    And I am living for Rhy and Alucard (is there a ship name for them?) and Lila is just being an absolute badass bitch.


  2. I’m so happy you enjoyed this so much, Reg! ❤ I am really impatient to read this, and I'm glad you liked the ending – it's what make me nervous, how it all will end haha 🙂


  3. Great review for this book Reg, and I have to say I completely 100% agree with everything you wrote. I feel like the first two boos were used to build up the world and the characters so this book could jump right into the plot and still give us additional character development throughout.
    Oh I loved all the characters. It was great seeing more of the King and Queen, they’ve always been kind of background figures in the previous books haven’t they? So it was wonderful them being expanded on in this one.
    I loved the scenes between Kell and Rhy, and also all the banter between all the characters. V.E. Schwab has created some amazing relationships in this series and it was wonderful reading them all again one last time.
    Holland was definitely my favourite character in this book, and now we know more of his backstory probably the whole series as well. Oh I felt for him so much he deserves a hug and a blanket and a cuppa! 😀
    Again great review, it kind of makes me want to go back and re-read this book again! 😀 ❤


    • Thanks so much, Beth! Yeah, for once the beginning just jumps straight into the action, and surprisingly it was really easy for me to get into it – didn’t really need warming up or anything. I suppose that’s just the sign of a well-written plot. 😛

      Yeees, the King and the Queen were very well-characterised in this one and I loved hearing from their perspectives too, especially the Queen’s as hers was a more complex one in regards to how she feels about Kell.

      Holland went through SO MUCH. It’s so sad that he’s never really had anyone to trust, and knowing that his actions make so much more sense even if I don’t agree with them. I wonder if there’ll be a spin-off in this universe? I’ve heard a rumour that this is probably it for these characters (or at least Kell?) but the universe itself has lots of potential. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s all right, and yeah actually it was the same for me. Sometimes it takes me a few pages/chapters to get into books properly but that definitely wasn’t the case with this one.
        It was nice to get more background into the characters we maybe didn’t see as much in the first two books, kind of made their endings feel more emotional as well as making you root for them more.
        Oh wow I would LOVE a spin off in this world, I don’t care who it’s about, what it’s about or where it’s set I just want more!
        I will say though the way things ended in this book for White London kind of made me think there was room for more there you know? 🙂


        • Yeees, and even with ADSOM/AGOS I had needed a bit of a warm-up (which the books conveniently provided, with their extensive set-up, haha).

          I’m super sad that we didn’t really end up finding out who Kell is or where he came from. I suppose that’s not particularly important to his character but I’d still want to know! I see an opportunity for a spin-off there but I also kind of want the cast to be left alone… let perfect endings be perfect endings and all that. 😛

          And yeah, I thought so too! I wouldn’t mind having different characters – it’d be lovely to see what Schwab can do within the same world. Whatever she writes next, though, I’m sure it’ll be wonderful. I’m a total convert. 😊

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh my god yes, I would have loved to learn more about his family. And while I agree it’s not necessarily important to his character, he see has Rhy after all, it would have been great to get more info on his background.
            Do you think maybe V.E. Schwab was kind of leaving things open for that to be a novella? I really hope so now you’ve mentioned it!
            I think this was a perfect ending. Maybe she’ll do something like Leigh Bardugo did, write a new book/series in the same world but with different characters. Same here, her books are definitely auto-buy/auto-reads of mine now! 😀


            • I think Lauren mentioned that Schwab tweeted that she hasn’t forgotten about Lila’s owed favour, so that kiiiind of hints at a potential spin-off/novella? I wouldn’t mind new characters taking charge (i.e. as protagonists), though – maybe we can ‘meet’ Kell and Lila but as secondary/supporting characters.

              I actually have not at all touched Leigh Bardugo’s books, but yes, perhaps! 😛

              Liked by 1 person

  4. I just finished this the other day and I’m not okay. It was perfect, but my entire being hurts. I love all these characters SO much. Especially Holland. I love Holland so, so much. I love the point you brought up about Emira being a mother and Maxim being a king. I never thought of it like that, but it’s so true! I understand what you mean with the loose ends too. I understand why, especially in regards to the thing with Kell, but damn it I wanted to know more! Haha! I can’t believe this series is over 😭 Fantastic review, Reg!


    • I love Holland so much more in this book too! What a tragic life he’s had – I just want to wrap him up in a huge blanket and tell him that everything is going to be OK.

      I was SO ANNOYED when Kell essentially threw away his chance of knowing where he came from. I can’t help but to wonder if there’ll be a spin-off or short story somehow, but it was such a perfect opportunity and I have no idea why we weren’t given that… I guess perhaps it’s not important to him, BUT STILL. 😫

      Anyway, the characterisation is so great with this book. Schwab’s such a great author. 💕


  5. asdsajdasgdyausgdadga.

    I will never get to read this book with the rate of [increasing] reading obligations. UGH, WHY DID I CHOOSE TO READ THIS REVIEW (this is the first review I’m reading of ACOL aside from random talks IRL with blogging friends about their expectation versus reality of ACOL).


    *closes review before I combust and implode with jealous feels*


  6. Wonderful review, Reg! This is one of my all time favorite series. And I agree, the characters are really amazing. I just received my copy of A Conjuring of Light at the V.E. Schwab book signing Saturday, so hopefully I’ll be able to finish up this trilogy soon! I am so excited for it! I’m happy to hear you say that the ending was perfect! That’s exactly what I was hoping for… 🙂


      • Yes, I met her and took a picture with her. She signed four of my books and personalized three. She actually didn’t do a reading, but she did do a Q&A. 🙂


        • That’s so amazing! How did she personalise it? I bet it was super great hearing her Q&A – was there anything that surprised you or was unexpected?

          Sorry, I’m totally bombarding you with questions! She’s just one of my favourite authors and I don’t reckon I’ll ever get the chance to see her. 😅

          Liked by 1 person

          • She just signed “For Megan -” then her signature. 😊 That’s alright. I really enjoyed the Q&A. Listening to her speak, you can tell how intelligent she is. She is just a creative, unique mind, ya know? I love her so much! One of the things she said that I thought was really interesting, was that she writes the ENDINGS of all her books FIRST. I thought that was pretty cool. So pretty much she writes her books backwards. Lol!


            • Ahhh that must have been pretty wonderful! And thanks for sharing that tidbit – that IS interesting, and I can see why her plots are quite well-written now. I suppose that kind of plotting approach ensures that you get exactly where you need to. 💗

              Liked by 1 person

              • That’s pretty much what she said! She said it helps her not forget things while writing the middle and beginning. She wants to know how and where her characters end up, before being able to write them perfectly in the beginning. Which makes total sense!


  7. Awww Reg your review is pretty much my exact thoughts, only phrased differently hahaha I love that it is more action packed, therefore more fast paced especially compared to AGOS. Boy that book was so slow 😂 also yes to the humor! I love Kell and Alucard’s constant bickering it’s just SO FUNNY. They’re like cranky old people who don’t want to share Rhy hahaha and Kell and Lila OH. MY. GOD ❤ I confessed… I never shipped them *this* much but now I did! And I love the fact that Lila has grown to be more sensible and started seeing things from other's perspective, especially Kell's instead of simply going with her guts hahaha I'm also sad about Holland. His life is the epitome of sadness </3 anyway, I already re-read some of my favorite scenes and I foresee a full reread happening soon hahaha fantastic review! 😀


    • Thanks, Puput! Yeah, it’s definitely more fast-paced compared to AGOS, which was just sloooow (although it could be bc I was waiting for Kell and Lila to meet again since FOREVER). And you’re so right about Kell/Alucard – I love their banter and their equal reluctance to tolerate each other is just so funny to read.

      Lila definitely grew in this one, didn’t she? I’ve always shipped her and Kell, especially after AGOS, and I’m so glad to see that one ship sail – and it sailed perfectly, in my opinion. Just couldn’t get any better. 💗

      What were some of your favourite scenes? I did that too with AGOS (the kiss omfg) but haven’t had the chance to do that with ACOL.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That makes sense! I was constantly waiting for them to cross path but it took so long hahaha right?! Even after Alucard told Kell the real reason he left Rhy his response was only “I still can’t stand you” hahaha see, I already memorize the dialogue 😛 I’m so glad all the ship sail too, especially because I wasn’t even sure they would make it out alive hahaha hmm let’s see, all the scenes with Lila and Kell esp the one where Kell asked why she kissed him hahaha the ones when Rhy was unconscious and pretty much all Kell/Alucard’s scenes. Oh, and Holland’s. Pretty much all the scenes though :’)


        • Yes, exactly! That took foreeeever, haha, whereas in ACOL we just start right in the middle of the action.

          I too wasn’t sure that they would make it out alive – I was like PLEASE GOD if they make it out alive I’d be super happy already… and now I’m just extremely happy with how things turned out. It’s the perfect ending, I think – it’s just what I imagined and it’s all so in-character.

          A spin-off where Holland finds his ultimate happiness would be SO GREAT.

          Liked by 1 person

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