Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Series Finale Where Light Defeats Darkness

Title: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 21st, 2017!

From Goodreads...
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.

My Review!
*Spoilers abound, so be careful!

The night after I finished --> I should be sleeping. It’s almost 2:30 a.m. and I have to be up in less than 8 hours for work. But I can’t stop thinking about this book.

I can’t stop thinking about Holland.

I love ALL of these characters *so much* and almost equally, I swear, but I’ve always had such a soft spot for Holland, even during book one when he was mostly an antagonist who did a lot of bad shit that you hardly knew if you should root for him or not. But I did. Because yeah, he may be a terrible person, but there was so much more to Holland than any of us know. (This review may or may not end up being a love letter to him, idk, I just have a lot of feelings for this Antari and I need to let them out after that ending. I have Thoughts.).

Morally grey characters are MY WEAKNESS, so it’s no surprise that I’ve developed an incredible fondness for a guy who toed the line between good and bad so frequently, and with little regard for the consequences. I understood everyone’s anger and hatred toward him. He understood why almost every one of them tried to or thought about killing him. If there was one thing he was good at (okay there are SEVERAL but this is a big one), it was at reading people. He’d spent so much of his life being silent, making himself small in the presence of others. (Or trying to because you just KNOW he was one that stood out, even when he didn’t want to). We find out some pretty shitty stuff about his childhood and young adulthood. (I honestly had not pictured Holland as a late 20s, early 30s man, I always thought he was close to Kell’s age. WHOOPS). From the time he was little, he’d been nearly killed a few times and he’d already become a killer. But everything he did was to survive, to try to carve out a space for himself in a world that only saw him as a prize to be captured.

And where did that leave him? A slave to the brutal Dane twins for SEVEN YEARS OF HIS LIFE. They broke him. They beat out *almost* all of the good that was inside of him. He suffered so much abuse, so much heartache. He’d suffered. It doesn’t justify all he’d done, all he’d put the main characters through. But it does make you stop and think about him as a character. And as A Conjuring of Light brings you closer and closer to the end, it makes you hurt and ache for a guy who has been through so much and who is still trying. Maybe not for the best of reasons or intentions, but he gave up his power, what made him who he is, for them. It all makes you just cry for Holland and the way that his story ended.

Or maybe that was just me. *sobs* Honestly, I KNEW he was going to die. I had this awful feeling, and it made sense. Even after he woke up, alive, when they trapped Osaron, I had a feeling. And I really did want to see him get the peace he deserved so badly. But is it really peace when one dies alone after giving up who they are to save a world that isn’t theirs? All he’d ever wanted was to save White London, to help his people, to make them thrive. It was why he killed an old king and became a friend to a new one. It was why he fought the Dane twins at every turn he could. It was why he made the deal with Osaron, and then the other deal with Osaron. It was why he spent so much of his energy and life into bringing colors back into his world. Yet, YET he was relieved, and so bone-deep tired, that I know his death was as it should have been and that it was where his character arc had been going. I just wish he’d been able to get a bit of happiness after all he endured. Also idk I have this theory about those last line ("The last air left Holland's lungs. And then, at last, the world breathed in.") that JUST MAYBE his death did something good for his London. But it’s something I’ll never know.

Just as I’ll never know pieces of these characters’ pasts that I WANT TO SO BADLY KNOW, VICTORIA. Guys, I just wrote three long paragraphs about JUST THIS ONE CHARACTER AND I HAVE NOT EVEN GOTTEN TO THE REST so you know this series has earned a special place in my heart.

Anyway, onto the rest or I might never stop talking about my precious Holland. Like I said, I understood people’s anger toward him, especially Lila’s. Holland had killed the only person she had cared about in the world, the only person she’d even so much as LET herself care about. But when she pickpockets Kell and goes on an adventure, she not only chooses to risk her neck to save others but she finds out more about herself than she ever could have guessed at. She learns what it means to truly live. She falls in love. She awakens a dormant magic within, and she finds out that she’s actually an Antari. She sails the seas and returns to a London that isn’t hers, participates and almost wins a game when she’d hardly had any practice in the elements. She helped save a world only to have to save it again. But she’s still Delilah Bard, extraordinary thief -- snarky, reckless, dangerous Lila who loves knives and cross-dressing and surprising the hell out of Kell Maresh. She’s gone through some change, yes, but she’s always been who she is, never apologizing for it, and I love her so much. She’s one of my fave characters ever.

And Kell is one of my faves of ever, too. (Okay all of these characters are, BUT SHHH I AM TALKING ABOUT KELL NOW). This Antari has taken a lot of blame over the whole Osaron mess, and yeah he is partly at fault. He brought that stone into the other Londons and set off this chain of events. But he is doing his damndest to make it right, to save everyone, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes, even sacrifice his own life, to do it. Kell is steadfastly loyal and incredibly gifted, and he’s kind of the anchor in the series, the one holding everything together. But he’s still unraveling a little bit, still fighting what had happened after he’d fought with the black stone, still balancing being the jewel of Arnes with the bitter realization that he’s been more of a weapon than a family member for the Maresh family (even if they tried to tell him otherwise). With Lila, he relaxes a little, falls in love, steals small bites of happiness throughout the book. But he is still damn stoic and fierce, and such a martyr sometimes, ugh. Gah, I love him. He may not have been as powerful as Holland, but he was just as needed, and incredibly selfless, and so, so good. MY HEART. <3

And then there are Alucard and Rhy, playful and charming and a little bit reckless. They both grew on me throughout the rereads and the events of A Conjuring of Light. Not that I hadn’t loved them before, but I’d always focused more on Kell and Lila and Holland, because their stories had been at the forefront. But these two. OH MAN. They both have a light that shines brightly, and they stole the show so many times. They had a lot to work through, a past that made for achingly sweet and tender moments but also with a lot of heartbreak between them. Precious cinnamon roll prince of Arnes, and pirate magician with a talent for reading people. They fit so well together, and I loved their interactions. I’m also so happy with their character developments; they both went through A LOT in this finale, but they persevered and clawed their way out of the darkness to give it all they had. Rhy grew into such a proud young man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he bore it well. And Alucard proved over and over again that he’s not the same person he was a few years ago, and that he’s worthy of second chances. I freaking love them and their beautiful souls.

SUCH MAGICAL AND LOVELY SHIPS. AND PIRATE SHIPS SETTING SAIL. SUCH SHIPPY GOODNESS. While there is so much going on in this story, and while there’s a dangerous threat hanging over the characters’ heads, Victoria does not let that stop her from giving romances a spark and from forming relationships that you’d never have expected. Kell and Alucard put aside their differences to save the world, even though the red-haired prince is still stubbornly protective of his brother (who can fight his own battles, thank you very much). Lila decided against killing Holland for a few reasons (mostly because of logic from others, but also because I think she sensed the parts of him he’d buried, and maybe even a glimpse of herself in him). But it was a good thing because he, and her, and Kell found within them the power to banish the darkness from Red London. TOGETHER. I loved, loved, loved the teamwork. #squadgoals But I knew it wouldn’t be happy endings for all, though. *cries forever about Holland* It was such a powerfully packed and emotional finale. 600+ pages is nothing when you don’t even notice because you’re in so deep.

It’s very hard to say goodbye, honestly. I’m so, so in love with with this series, and with these characters. I don’t want to let go, so I’ll just say anoshe, because this is one series I’ll be rereading for years to come.


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