Thursday, 9 March 2017

A Conjuring of Light


Book Title: A Conjuring of Light
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #3
Date Started: February 21st 2017
Date Completed: March 9th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Quality Rating: Five Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Four Star
Final Rating: Four stars

A Conjuring of Light was a great conclusion to a beautifully visionary series. However, while for me the book didn't do anything wrong, it didn't do anything mindblowing either. Regardless, this is a series that I could pick up whenever I felt like it and become oblivious to everything happening around me while I read it.

This whole series is so imaginative when it comes to worldbuilding and magic systems. I mean, the premise of the final book is that they're fighting magic itself. Every city, every kingdom, every commoner, outlaw and royal are lovingly stitched into this vast tapestry with such care that everything feels real. And if that wasn't enough we're given a character who can actually see the threads of magic binding people and things together. I'm a sucker for imagery at the best of times, but Vic takes it to the next level.
Sex scenes seem to be something cropping up more in books these days. Maybe I'm just reading different books, but I think the freedom of sexuality that's emerging is extending to younger forms of literature as well - which is really good if it's used properly. What Vic did with it in this book was the best example I've come across, because it was there naturally, instead of being put in there for the sake of having a sex scene. (Spoilers ahead if you don't want to know who it's with, though if you've read the other books it's obvious.) What we end up having here is a scene of intimacy, that happens to involve sex as a form of expressing that. It's not there to be a little indulgent sex scene for the hell of. Kell and Lila fall into the situation naturally and spontaneously, and it feels like it's there for them to, not the reader, and so it feels so much more significant as a result.

I had a bit of a jerky start to Conjuring since we begin immediately where the last book left off, and after a year of reading other books in between, I spent a lot of the opening chapters being reminded of what had happened as opposed to being caught up in the atmosphere and drama. Having said that, Vic definitely took that into consideration and makes sure there are enough references dotted along the way to catch us up, and also leave a bit of build up time before the main story starts to begin.
Although, the pacing did take me a bit of time to get into; going straight in meant that there wasn't really any build up to the tension, so a lot of it was lost on me. I still enjoyed the first part of the book, but I felt like I missed out on a lot of it too. Things get real almost instantly and then stay there for pretty much the whole book, so I was a bit jumbled when it came to feeling the excitement or fear of the characters because I was still a few steps behind in getting myself to the same emotional place as them. I think it also caught me off guard because there isn't as much playfulness in Conjuring as the rest of the series. I liked the constant threat of this book but I'd also be lying if I said I didn't miss more of a balance with the original humour.
But what made Conjuring a brilliant conclusion to the Shades of Magic series was the way in which it took every element of the previous books and incorporated it with the new storyline. It really felt like we were drawing to a close with nostalgia weaved almost imperceptibly into the plot, but there were still enough new things to keep us busy. And actually even now, with the book over, there's a sense that there's enough open for the characters to keep going. So much of this book - and the series as a whole - is about following these characters as they grow and start to take on new responsibilities. It's not a coming of age book, but I can look back and see that every one of them has crossed a threshold into a new place, and there's still so much ahead of them that we don't have to see to know is there. I adored this so much because it sent me back to being a kid again, and reading books and making up stories for all the characters after the book ended. Without needing to be shown it, when the book and the series ended the story didn't immediately finish like so many of them often do: I genuinely feel like they're still continuing to exist somewhere off the page.

When it comes down to it, I think we all agree that the characters are the thing that puts this book ahead of the others. I think that was proven once again by a number of times I actually had to stop reading in this book and just sit in awe of Lila for a moment, and verbally say how much I loved her several times over. I write a lot myself, and many of my female characters have echoes of people like Lila, but I could only dream of nailing her so perfectly. She's such a balanced character who's fighting constantly for herself, with herself, for others, with others. She shows a lot of vulnerability willingly and unwillingly, even in tiny little gestures that I'm sure a lot of people don't even notice. Lila's intelligent, scared, kickass and powerful, all from her own choices, but she can let other people in as well. Writing such a well-rounded character that isn't just passive and trying to tick every box, but actually has a personality is a talent that I think Vic should be internationally recognised for because it brings everything she writes to life. And especially at a time like this when there's so much contention towards diversity. In fact, there are so many diverse characters scattered throughout the whole universe Vic's created: there are women in positions of power left, right and centre, we have people of colour taking up a wonderful amount of lead roles, the most influential couple in the series are homosexual, all without batting an eyelid.
Which of course leads me on to the rest of the cast. I could talk about every single character in these books for days but I've decided to give Lila the limelight she deserves, and sum up the rest of these people together. What really makes this series are the characters that burrow their way into your heart. Each is their own defined character, they all have their own negative complexes that most certainly brush against each other's sometimes; Kell's got his saintly complex, Rhy his fear of being used, Alucard doubtful belonging and provoking humour, Holland his hopeless wanting. But they all have their saving graces too. They're all heroes in their own way, and I love the fact that none of them can really get where they want to without letting each other in.

I follow Vic's work almost religiously at this point and everything she comes up with I can't wait to get my hands. The Shades of Magic series was probably the first one that properly got me into her writing and while I hate to see it finished, I'm content with the way it drew to a close.

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