4.5 out of 5 stars
I read this so slowly, trying to make it last forever!
These books are brilliant. A Conjuring of Light is as complicated and layered as a battle plan – which is what our heroes are trying to form. The King has his own ideas, and Rhy finds that magic isn’t the only force he can use. Osaron is a timeless villain, who consumes Red London in a vicious, sudden snap. But the real fun is with Kell, Lila, Alucard, and – yup! – Holland, seeking forgotten Antari ways to defeat evil.
There is also a magical pirate map, blank unless you’re allowed to see its contents, that gives a coded location for a floating black market full of mysterious treasures run by a bad-ass old lady pirate. If you don’t read these books based on that line alone, I don’t even know you.
As ever, Lila is near the top of my list of YA heroines. She has so many rote qualities: headstrong, rash, can’t follow orders, insert first 250 pages of every YA novel here… but she is never boring. That is a rare and nearly magical accomplishment. Maybe it’s the rest of Schwab’s cast, so clearly defined and comfortable, or because Lila remains full of surprises to the end. Maybe it’s because the story is a perfect balance between many great characters. My only complaint is that Shades of Magic has but one female lead character, because now I know what Schwab can do!
In the end, this series is incredibly satisfying. It raises the bar for everything else I’m reading… and for invisible pirate map magical artifact treasure hunts everywhere.