Book Review – The Shades of Magic Series by V.E. Schwab



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Meet the Author:

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”



Shades of Magic Series




Shades of Magic Series


A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)




Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy




A Darker Shade of Magic

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.


A Gathering of Shadows

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.


A Conjuring of Light

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.




After I had such a hard time getting into this series I decided to review the entire series at once.

As embarrassing as it might sound it took me until book 3 to really connect and care for the characters. Usually when reading high fantasy series it takes me half a book to understand the world building and to get to know the many different characters. With the Shades of Magic Series  it took the longest yet. Because of that I didn’t like A Darker Shade of Magic at all, it was boring and I could have cared less about anyone and anything.

I should also mention that I listened to the audiobook, and for A Gathering of Shadows they switched narrators, and lucky me they chose my favorite narrator couple Michael Kramer and Kate Reading. They usually narrate my most favorite high fantasy of all times The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. This switch gave the book a boost, just hearing familiar voices changed how I felt about the novel.

But not until A Conjuring of Light did I really get into the story, but most of all, I finally started caring for the characters.

And now I can finally admit that I’m glad I read this series. And I’m very happy about  A Conjuring of Light. The storyline was complex and interesting. But most of all the characters won me over.

For me, most everything in this book was done precise, in a understated, subtle way. I thought that the multifaceted and delicate story arc came to a very satisfying conclusion in book three. The entire series felt more muted than vibrant – which fit the plot and characters to a t.

The Shades of Magic Series ended up being a rather complex and layered story. Different worlds that interconnected and every decision ended up having far reaching consequences.

I truly regret not being able to connect with they story and characters sooner, because in the end, I fell in love with this series. 



About corina

I’m a blogger, photographer, and unapologetic book addict. I love strong female characters, major jerks, and Happily Ever Afters.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – The Shades of Magic Series by V.E. Schwab

  1. Seeing Victoria announce new books set in this world just reminded me of how long I’ve owned A Darker Shade of Magic and never read it whoops.

    I’m glad the payoff for investing your time into these books was worth it, and that the characters managed to win you over in the end! I imagine that it would feel satisfying to know it was worth it in the end. I just might have to bump the first book up on my reading list because now I’m super curious.

    Thanks for the review! (your pictures are so pretty I love <3)

    1. Exactly Kim!! Sometimes you just have to preserver to reach the ending that makes it all worthwhile. I hope you’ll enjoy it. And I’m very excited to jump into Savage Song next, supposedly that series is a little lighter and easier than ADSOM.

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