April 8, 2020

Series Review: Shades of Magic

I actually started reading the Shades of Magic series last year, as A Darker Shade of Magic was the book my friend Lili chose for me to read. I was a little nervous going into it because there had been so much hype, but I ended up really enjoying the book. It did work really well as a standalone story though, so I ended up going months before I finally decided to finish the series. I'm happy to be able to say that I ended up really enjoying A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light! This series has a great setting (which helped me feel really grounded in the world and the magic), as well as a great set of plots (which were fun to witness unfold). But my favorite thing about it has to be the characters, because I fell in love with the whole gang (who all basically sprang right out of the pages and into my heart, save for one who had to grow on me) and just wanted to see their story through. All in all, I can certainly see why so many people absolutely love this series -- and I can now be counted among their ranks.

I'm including my reviews for each individual novel below! And, if it looks familiar to you, the review for the first book is the same one I shared in this Abbreviations post from last year.

I finally read A Darker Shade of Magic, friends (and all credit for it finally happening goes to my friend Lili)! Like all V.E. Schwab novels that I’ve read up until now, this one has a solid premise: an individual who is one of the very few people who can hop between four different Londons must now track down an artifact that was stolen from him to prevent the end of the world as he knows it and ends up finding a new ally along the way. I enjoyed deep diving into the world of four Londons, as well as seeing the magic system in action – it really transported me as I read. I’m also pleased to finally meet some well-known characters, including clever Kell, sassy Lila and mysterious Holland. But the plot is truly what cemented my feelings for the book! I was hooked right from the start, and it was pretty much impossible for me to stop reading (so much so that I switched to audio so I could continue reading at work). While I do feel like the plot and characters echo familiarly (as they’re likely to be recognizable in other stories too), it didn’t deter my enjoyment. The only reservation I had, and the reason that I ended up not being able to give this book a full five stars, is that I didn’t 100% love the writing style Schwab employed in this story. But A Darker Shade of Magic was a fun, entertaining read, and guaranteed my desire to continue the series.

Because A Darker Shade of Magic ends on a pretty solid note, I didn’t feel like I needed to pick up the sequel straightaway. I’m regretting the fact that I waited until half a year later to read A Gathering of Shadows! The story picks up shortly after the events at the end of the first book, but all our favorites are pursuing their own futures: Kell is still wrestling with the unchecked power that he feels flowing within him, Rhy is wrestling with his existence and the new emotional tie he shares with his brother, Lila is exploring the world of Red London as a member of a crew ship on the open seas. What brings our trio back together is the Essen Tasch, a tournament for magical combat. But apart from their own journeys and this tournament, there is a more sinister plot afoot… Honestly, A Gathering of Shadows is so much fun. I had no idea where Schwab was going with her sequel, but it ended up being incredibly entertaining! While the plot certainly reeled me in (especially with my partiality to tournaments), the characters – Kell, Rhy, Lila and Alucard– were my favorite aspect of the story. It felt like such a treat to read about each of them, honestly, and combined with a snappy plot pace, it really all came together for me as a reader. 

A Conjuring of Light, on the other hand, was a very satisfying series ender, and I’m glad that I could dive straight into it after finishing up A Gathering of Shadows. (I’ve said this on multiple platforms, but I feel terrible for all of you who had to wait an entire year after that cliffhanger.) The story follows the main cast we were introduced previously as they come together against impossible odds to save Red London from the foul magic that threatens it. No further specifics from this reader, as not knowing what to expect contributed to my enjoyable reading experience! I really enjoyed Schwab’s execution of the story. Her writing really suited the snappy pace and provided just enough description and context for readers to have a strong idea of the world, the characters and the relationships. Seriously, A Conjuring of Light was such fun. Sure, I got stressed out over how it would all end, and sure, there were a lot of darker, more emotional moments too. But it was entertaining and action-packed and funny, and that’s really what stands out about this installment in the end. I’m so glad that I finally finished this trilogy! This book cemented the series’ place on my bookshelf, and I will join the many folks who have come before me in saying that I’d recommend checking out the series.

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) was released on February 24, 2015 by Tor Books.
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) was released on February 23, 2016 by Tor Books.
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) was released on February 21, 2017 by Tor Books.


  1. I've been meaning to finish this series for ages!! I really enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic. Thanks for sharing this review!


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