• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

Schwab's stories take place within her detailed fantasy worlds, but her characters' conflicts, hopes, and fears feel real and true for any genre.

A Conjuring of Light is an epic finish to V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series.


There are four Londons in Schwab's trilogy, and in this final book, darkness threatens to upend the delicate balance the few, essential, magical Antari have struggled to establish among the worlds.


The fantastic main players are back: Kell, the ward of the Red London's royal family who once thought he was the last Antari alive; Lila Bard, the gloriously contrary, mischievous pickpocket from Grey London who is learning to control her considerable magic; Holland, White London royalty Lila loves to hate; Rhys, Kell's prince and brother; and one of my favorites, Captain Alucard Emery. Then there's Osaron, Black London's villain who's trying to destroy everyone and everything the whole world over through his shadows and dark control.


Necessity makes for strange bedfellows; as crisis after crisis erupts, situations require ingenuity, teamwork, selflessness, and a more sophisticated mastery of magic, skills, clever thinking, and politics than any of the characters could have imagined.


Schwab's stories take place within her detailed fantasy world (with some historical fiction elements of London and life at the time mixed in), but her world-building never feels manufactured or self-conscious. Her characters' dynamics, conflicts, hopes, fears, and determination feel real and true. There's a great layer of twisty-turny love/denied feelings/ confusion/misunderstanding (Lila and Kell; Alucard and Rhys) that comes into play and adds nice depth. A small detail: the cutthroat magical bartering and "shopping" scene was a standout.


The series is adult fantasy but would be appropriate for a young adult reader--if not averse to Lila's occasional and wonderfully foul-mouthed fury in the face of various indignities.


The book is 600+ pages; I listened to the audiobook, and the dual narrators Kate Reading and Michael Kramer are spot-on.

What did you think?

The first two books in the Shades of Magic series are A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows, each of which I gave four stars.


Schwab is also the author of the Villains trilogy, which I really like. The first book in that series is Vicious and the most recent is Vengeful, with a third not yet published.

Schwab also recently published The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, a stand-alone book I'm eager to read.