As with my last review, this was a re-read for me as well. Well, most of it was a re-read. I had actually read the first two books of this series, A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows, previously and decided to re-read them before reading the final book, A Conjuring of Light.
I really enjoyed these books and what I enjoyed most are the two main characters. The first character we meet is Kell. An Antari (blood magician), Kell is from Arnes, also known as Red London, and he is the most powerful magician in a land of magicians. Nearly everyone in Arnes has some sort of ability with magic and the river (Thames-not-Thames) that Arnes is built on is a source of magic. Kell has been adopted into the royal family and it is his responsibility to travel between Londons to relay letters between the monarchs.
The other Londons include Black London, which was overrun by magic and closed off to protect the other worlds against suffering the same fate. White London, which still has magic albeit a vicious and brutal magic, and is ruled by the vicious, brutal Danes. And, finally, Grey London, which essentially has no magic to speak of. Grey London is where we meet Delilah Bard, androgynous thief and wanna be pirate. Delilah may not be a magician, but she is a goddamn delight and her adventures with Kell are fabulous.
The first book centers on the adventures of Delilah and Kell together as they battle, well, a darker shade of magic. The second book, A Gathering of Shadows, was probably my favorite as, through the separate adventures of Delilah and Kell, we learn more about Kell’s world, including the equally magical kingdoms that border Arnes. The descriptions of the magicians and magic in this book are fantastic.
The third book, A Conjuring of Light, was probably my least favorite of the three. Although Kell and Delilah are back and having adventures, they were, for me, confusing adventures. Red London is under attack, but the nature of the attack wasn’t entirely clear to me. I think that’s because the magic in these books doesn’t work like most authors’ magic and so was hard for me to understand. I actually like that the magic in these books is a different kind of magic, but it did get a little muddy for me at times.
That being said, I would absolutely recommend these books to any fans of fantasy. V.E. Schwab does a wonderful job of world building, especially in the second book. This series is well worth the read.