A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Published February 21, 2017
A Conjuring of Light is the third and final volume in V.E. Schwab’s captivating Shades of Magic trilogy. The novel picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off with Lila trying to move between Londons under her own power for the first time, Holland succumbing to Osaron’s control of his body, and Kell powerless and bleeding. As Osaron spreads to Red London, Kell and Lila, along with Alucard Emery and an unexpected ally, must fight the impending darkness.
It’s no secret that this was one of my most anticipated titles of the year and it did not disappoint! With such an epic trilogy, the stakes had to be raised accordingly and they are. In this volume, it is Kell’s home, the vibrant magic-filled Red London that is at stake and all of the characters we’ve come to care about over the course of the series are directly involved.
Although Kell Maresh is undoubtedly still the protagonist, A Conjuring of Light also provides a great deal of insight into the enigmatic Holland, the Antari of White London. Surprisingly, considering that the previous book ended with Holland ensnaring Kell and attempting to trade him to Osaron for his freedom, I actually grew to have a great deal of sympathy for Holland. This is a testament to the strength of Schwab’s writing as she invokes feeling for Holland not only through glimpses into his past, but also through Kell’s point of view. Kell recognizes, much like Frodo and Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, that he and Holland are not so different and that under other circumstances, that could be him.
A continued strength of this series is the characters and the relationships between them. I love serious Kell Maresh of the furrowed brow who wears his heart on his sleeve. I love bold, unapologetic Lila Bard who takes what she wants. I love Prince Rhy, slightly more subdued this book as the weight of his royal duty to his people sinks in. And I love Alucard Emery the charming privateer.The banter and dynamics between these characters, all lovable in their own right, is a huge part of the why I enjoy this series so much. There’s snarky bickering between Kell and Alucard, their mutual dislike clear, there’s the usual exasperation of Kell with Lila, but with a soft fondness, the camaraderie of Alucard and Lila, and the different ways in which each of the characters react to Holland. Essentially, I am going to miss all of these characters very much.
One of the qualities I need in a great epic novel is that there are lasting consequences for the characters involved. Part of why the Six of Crows duology is so effective is that these flawed characters grow and start to heal but they aren’t magically whole and they continue to deal with the fallout of their respective pasts. This is also something I respect so much about Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, that even decades after the events of the books Katniss is still scarred by the Hunger Games and what she’s endured. The characters in A Conjuring of Light are also irrevocably altered by the events of the books. There is loss along the way that takes its toll and the impact of Osaron’s control over Red London is felt by all.
Of course the most important part of any final book in a series is the ending. Again, A Conjuring of Light does not disappoint. I found it to be an entirely appropriate and fitting end to the series, although it’s certainly bittersweet as a reader to let go of “Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London” (okay, maybe not Dead London) and to say goodbye, or at least, Anoshe, to the characters I’ve loved so much.