The Shades of Magic series is the second work by V. E. Schwab that I’ve read, This Savage Song being the first (you can read an old review of mine here), since attempting and failing to read Vicious—which, in hindsight, was due to a slump rather than disappointment. Even though slightly apprehensive about approaching a new series, the diversity and gay author encouraged me to crack on.
First in the series, A Darker Shade of Magic, unexpectedly sealed the deal.
I say unexpectedly because, as someone who reads a few chapters a day or takes months to finish, sometimes my attention sways enough that my interest is lost, leaving yet another unfinished/abandoned book. In this instance, I was rooted to the story until the end, even if it did take a while to finish anyway, because the content was that interesting and compelling.
To me, the drive came from the characters and setting. Characters included various types, whether flawed protagonists or developing anti-heroes (the latter, without question, being my favourite kind, with angst and conflict), which you’d think would be a downside, but they held the story. The world-building of four versions of London also created an interesting and vivid structure, and, without either of these detailed aspects, the story wouldn’t have been as captivating.
It also wouldn’t have been if Schwab herself hadn’t fancasted Holland as Mads Mikkelson—and that is enough for me to fall in love with anything.
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
A Gathering of Shadows could have been shortened, dipping in the middle every so often, but the books on either side of it compensated for what lacked. Such as the raw and enthralling completion of the trilogy with A Conjuring of Light, bringing together three instalments with its beautiful and emotional conclusion, which one might be saddened by, until you find out that another series for the universe is coming, not only with new characters but the existing ones as well.
So, if you enjoy stories with magic and friendships, romance and action, then this trilogy should be right up your street.