3.5 stars. It’s always a bit scary heading into the final book of a beloved series. Will things wrap up satisfactorily? Will my favorite characters die? Will I be able to read it again and still love it? Ideally you want it to be the best book in the series, but just not ruining the series will usually suffice. That was kind of my feeling with this one. Although I didn’t love it as much as the first two books, it was still a satisfying conclusion to the series. I would feel good recommending the series as a whole to anyone.
A Conjuring of Light picks up immediately after the events of book 2. Kell is in White London, kidnapped and trying not to die. Unfortunately this also leaves Rhy trying not to die as well since their lives are tied to each other. Because Rhy is in so much pain, Lila knows Kell is in danger and sets out to find him. By the time she’s able to do so, a malevolent presence is making its way through Red London and the city is falling fast. Together, they must find a way to defeat this dark magic and expel it from Red London without ending up dead.
There were a couple of things that prevented me from wholeheartedly loving this finale. The first and biggest issue was that it was a little choppy. There are more point-of-view characters in book 3 than in the previous books and I felt like I was being thrown from character to character. Add in some flashback chapters here and there and it feels a bit like whiplash. The other thing I’d have wanted was more of a traditional plot arc. Book 3 hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. I think I prefer a little more variation and lead-up to the plot. A book that’s always at level 10 is hard to read. Luckily, there are still some quiet moments scattered throughout, giving the book just enough variation for me to get through it. My final complaint, and this is more to do with the entire series rather than the last book, is that I could never fully buy into the romance between Lila and Kell. Is it just me? I am usually such a sucker for this kind of thing. Just throw me a few lines of banter and some stolen looks between characters and I will ship it forever and ever. With Kell and Lila, I got more of a sibling vibe so the romantic scenes had me cringing.
Despite a few complaints, there were many things I really enjoyed! Schwab writes really great characters with fully formed personalities. True to form, she sticks the landing with character development. Everything these characters do and say is believable. You may not like them or what they’re doing, but it all makes sense and you can see where they’re coming from. Not everything gets tied up in a neat little bow, but I felt closure with all the relationships between the main characters. That’s such a difficult line to walk and Schwab made it look easy.
Speaking of relationships, let’s talk about a romance I could fully get into: Rhy and Alucard. Tragic backstory, complicated feelings, flirty characters? I. am. so. there. Their conclusion left me swooning and in tears. I love that a queer relationship is just normal and there are no “but the prince can’t get with a man” type conversations. So refreshing!
Despite the character hopping, Schwab’s writing is as wonderful as always. She is definitely an author who knows how to turn a phrase. She managed to give the prose a melodic feel while still making the character’s words seem natural.
Another great thing about this book was that although the ending was bittersweet, it was open enough that I can imagine the adventures these characters will have going forward. Rhy, Lila, Alucard, and Kell have all become dear friends and I want to imagine where their lives will take them.