REVIEW: A Conjuring of Light

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Book Review: A Conjuring of Light
 book cover Book title A Conjuring of Light
Series/standalone Shades of Magic #3
Author  V.E. Schwab
Pages 624
Year published 2017
Category | Genre High Fantasy
Rating 3.5 stars

Official Summary

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.


In A Nutshell

The finale of the Shades of Magic offers the readers closure despite leaving questions unanswered.

WARNING: This review is for the third book in a series and may contain spoilers for the first two books. If you haven’t read the first two books, beware of spoilers or jump straight to verdict at the bottom of this post.


  • Characters’ growth. Having read many series, I tend to cling to the characters, not wanting to let them go. Strangely enough, I found it easy enough to let go of Kell and Lila and Rhy. Sure, I’ll miss them, but I don’t feel like requesting more books about these characters. Why? I suspect this is related to how Schwab ended the series. She gave us closure, this is it, the story ends, and I could now let go and get back to my life (or.. you know to worry about other characters). The biggest problem with A Darker Shade of Magic was the lack of character growth, something that’s been fixed in A Gathering of Shadows and continue to be evident here. It’s bittersweet watching them grow up, but the satisfaction of seeing how the story ends made it worth.
  • Friendship, family, and romantic relationships all put to test. Schwab, the queen of slow burn romance, included some really hot sexytimes as a gift to the readers for being so patient (just kidding, maybe). There are both cishet romance and m/m romance as to be expected if you’ve been following the series. On the other hand, Kell and Rhy bromance will always be one of my favorite sibling relationship ever, but even their close bond is put to test in this finale of the Shades of Magic. 

Things I Wish Were Different

  • The villain. It’s a shame that this book has one of the weaker villain compared to other books in the series. One would think that a series’ finale will have the most epic villain – but sadly that’s not true here. The villain is actually really strong in term of magic (since after all this is a series about magic), but there’s nothing underneath that smoke. No complexity, no genius evil planning, just complete evil. Perhaps, it’s intended to be so, but I cannot help but think that this book will fare even better with a good villain.
  • Way too many secondary and tertiary characters. I read this book months ago (because I’m the queen of procrastinating on backlog) and now when I’m writing this book I cannot tell you the name of a single memorable character that is not part of the main clique. Cannot even tell you the name of the queen, sorry. And perhaps that’s my terrible memory or lack of attention but surely there is a limit on how many characters you can dump into the book before it make the readers dizzy.
  • Mystery that remains mystery. I am actually not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Right after I finished reading the book, I wrote in Goodreads that despite some questions remain unanswered, I am strangely okay with that. Well, after months have passed and I have more time to contemplate, I realize that I am after all WANT those answers. We all know that in life, there are mysteries and questions that will never be answered and some that are better left as they are. However, I, as a reader, want to know these things, have been waiting for the answers since Book 1 (check out my A Darker Shade of Magic re-read if you’re curious what the questions are – WARNING: they are filled with SPOILERS), and to know that these questions might never be answered is kind of painful.

Final Score

3.5 stars
3.5 stars (out of 5 stars)


If you’ve read A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows and you demand answers, then this finale will leave you somewhat unsatisfied. If you’ve read both books and all you want is more Kell and Rhy and Lila and Alucard and more bromance and romance, then this book more than delivered. The weak villain and the bulk cause by too many secondary characters (and side stories) made this book felt dragging at some points. As it stands, A Gathering of Shadows remained my favorite book of the series, but A Conjuring of Light is a respectable finale.

Now, for those who haven’t started the series, you might have questions too. If you haven’t read the first two books, should you read them? Should you invest your time in this series? Well, after reading all three books, I can honestly say that if you’re a fan of fantasy novels, this series is well worth your time. It offers great character arc, well-written magic system, competent worldbuilding, diverse cast, gay reps, and complex characters and relationships. I will give the whole series a 4-stars rating.

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