4.5 out of 5 Conjured Stars
This is the 3rd book in the Shades of Magic series. Look for it under my “All the Reviews” page for the other books.
Praise little baby Jesus! I have fallen in love with Victoria or V.E. Schwab – and while being underwhelmed by book 1 in this series, by Victoria standards (meaning it’s not as good as her other books, but still a 4 star book) and being disappointed in book 2 – I LOVED THIS BOOK. Book 2 was too long and angsty and didn’t develop anything right. I mean, I was not happy with any of the plot points. But this one hit the ground running and didn’t stop. I don’t mean pace alone, which was very good. The plot was tight, the characters were more like I remembered them (or wanted them to be) and everyone seemed to have a valid plot line.
Finally, I get Lila. The first book, she felt very generic and tropey. We have a girl that dresses like a boy. She steals. She’s quick with a snarky comeback and loves weapons. This isn’t an unusual combo for a young female protagonist in a certain kind of book. The 2nd book, in my opinion, is a mess. I didn’t like her or the way she behaved, but she seemed very focused in this one. It’s like the lousy character development finally came together. Maybe I shouldn’t say lousy – but there were things about her I didn’t like, as far as acting impetuous and even killing people with no regard, then claiming she only kills people when she has to. But she didn’t have to kill the people who kidnapped her and put her in the box during the tournament in the last book. Don’t get me wrong- I’d have done the same thing if I was as good with a knife and magic as she is…. and living in an imaginary world with no consequences. But let’s call it what it is, and admit that she has a really dark, cruel and uncaring streak. It was straight up revenge. Also, being a homebody myself, I don’t like characters who drift for no reason. I don’t relate to people who don’t want a home and loved ones. Also, the author shouldn’t write characters as if they are living in an imaginary world where there aren’t consequences for your actions. But in this book, Lila came off as driven, tough and really, really brave. I wish I’d read 3 books with this character.
I’m so glad the situation they were in began to drive the plot. Where the 2nd book doesn’t get going for 300 pages, this one we were right into the action. There was no way around it, after the way the last book ended. Holland had made it back to White London, possessed by Osaron – the maker of the stone that caused all the problems. But Osaron isn’t happy with living in Holland’s body and slowly bringing White London back to life. He always wants more, more, more. Let’s just say, Holland royally screws up and unleashes Osaron on Red London. We learn so much more about Holland’s back story and who he is – what he went through under the Dane’s and how helpless he was. He started out a really good man, and it’s so sad what happened to him.
I liked that this had more than one plot point. Obviously, we have Kell being lured into White London. Then we have the threat of Osaron destroying Red London. And of course, there is one thing that could save them…. and they have to go to the coolest place to find it. There is a floating magical market for pirates and thieves. It’s just a really fun part of the story and it reveals a lot about all of our characters.
I love Alucard Emery. I wish he would be my boyfriend, but if he can’t be, I’m glad he’s Rhy’s. This is another leg of the story. While they are trying to figure out how to fight what is going on with Osaron, Rhy discovers he is not in danger from Osaron’s influence because of his ties to Kell and his blood magic. So. Much. Drama. So much dark black magic. So much danger. I love it when a book feels utterly hopeless. I saw no way for this to work out. I thought everything was utterly doomed. So much heroism. Everybody was working on a secret plan to try and save everybody. It was amazing. But of all of it, I desperately wanted Alucard and Rhy to break through what was holding them back from each other. It’s kind of weird how in this 3rd book we finally find out all the backstories, and we find out more about why Kell and Alucard hate each other, and Alucard’s family history.
I feel like I’ve gone on forever and yet told you nothing. There is a lot of sadness to go with the amazingness of this story. I am so glad I made it through the first two. I almost didn’t make it through the 2nd one, but I’m glad I persisted. This has to be my favorite 3rd book of a trilogy, of just about anything. It’s up there with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and The Dark Tower. I won’t promise you happily ever after, but there is a lot of satisfaction.