This book. This whole series. My goodness. If you haven’t had the chance to read my reviews for the first two books, now would be a good time to do that.
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book picks up directly after the end of A Gathering of Shadows, and lemme tell ya, shit has hit the fan. Each POV gets an “intro” chapter of sorts and each of them ends in a cliffhanger that made me bite my nails and yell at the book. In this book all the major players get POV chapters; Kell, Lila, Rhy, Alucard, Holland, and Osaron. The first thirty pages of the book is at a breakneck speed where stakes are high and my heart pounded in my chest with fear for all my favorite characters.
So, yeah. Nearly killing all of your characters is one way to start the last book in a series. I’ve been taught over the years that the first chapter sets the tone for your book, that whatever happens in chapter one is what your readers will expect from the rest of the book. As a reader I’m not sure I agree with that, since I’ve read plenty of books that were fast-paced and gripping for the first ten pages or so and then slows down and sets the stage afterward.
But Schwab doesn’t do that here. The stakes are high through this whole book, which is no small feat when you consider that it’s 624 pages long. Red London is under attack by Osaron, the entity Holland brought back from Black London, and it will take sacrifices from everyone to defeat him.
What I loved:
- The characters. This should be a big “duh” after the reviews I wrote for the series so far. I love them all. Even the side characters that don’t seem all that important. Tieren, Lenos, Hastra, Maxim and Emira. I love them all even as they break my heart over and over again. But of course, it comes back to the main players time and again. I adore Kell and Lila, Rhy and Alucard, and even Holland by the end of the book.
- The relationships, because that’s what this book is really about. Kell’s relationships with Lila, Rhy, Alucard, and his parents. Rhy’s relationships with his parents, Kell, and Alucard. Alucard’s relationships with Rhy, his family (which we see more of in this book), his crew, and with Lila. Lila’s relationships with Kell, Alucard, the crew, Barron, and Calla. We even see more of Holland’s past and the people in his life before the Danes stole everything from him. I think that’s what makes this series so successful for me. I’m a very character-driven, emotional writer. So is Schwab, so her books resonate with me.
- The magic remains some of the coolest shit I’ve seen in fiction lately. There are rules but there’s still a sense that even the characters don’t know all of them. That there is more to learn, more to the world and powers and the people that simply hasn’t been discovered. And that’s really freaking cool.
- I loved that, despite all the heartache (and there’s a lot of it) Schwab still managed to give us a satisfying, happy-ish ending. I cried a bunch through this book, and the ending was no exception. But she was able to wrap it up in a way that was satisfying and right. That’s no easy task with any story, let alone one I cherished as much as this.
After all that, was there anything that I didn’t like?
Not really. I didn’t like that I couldn’t get my hands on the audiobook, which is more a matter of me being too cheap to buy the thing on Audible than anything else. The audiobook has a 6+ month hold through my library, which I’ve kept because I’m going to listen to it and enjoy it (read: cry) all over again. I had to read the book, which I thought would slow me down, but it really didn’t. I devoured it all the same.
I didn’t like that it ended. How’s that for criticism? How dare you stop writing about these amazing people? HOW DARE?
But, you want to know some good news? A Shades of Magic television show is currently in production, and V.E. Schwab seems pretty involved with (and excited by) the process so far. I try to keep my expectations low for adaptations of books, because they so rarely hold a candle to the source material, and this one’s gonna be tough for me. I will have very high standards, which means I will probably hate it.
I’m still gonna watch the shit out of it though, because I am desperate for any and all Kell content. Seriously, it is taking all of my discipline not to shelve my TBR and drown myself in Kell/Lila fanfic. I even found a playlist on Spotify that I CANNOT stop listening to. That’s where I’m at with my obsession right now.
I’d say send help, but I don’t even want it. I’m happy right where I am.
I won’t have another review this week, but I’ll be back on Friday to talk about the SFWA Reading Series event in Portland Thursday night. I’ll be hanging out, drinking beer, and listening to Rebecca Roanhorse and Sam J. Miller read and talk about their books. I am so excited that I’m sure I’ll have a bunch to talk about after the fact.
Until then, Blogland.