A Conjuring of Light

by V.E. Schwab
Reviewed by S.A. 

There is so much I want to say about this book, yet so little that I can without giving it away. It’s safe to assume that if you’re looking to read it, it’s likely that you’re enjoyed (or, dare I say, devoured) the previous installments of the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy. Followers of my instagram and tumblr have been hearing me rant and rave about how excited I was for it to finally come out, and now that I’ve read it, I desperately wish for someone I can blabber on about it with.

* Review spoiler free for A Conjuring of Light, but if you haven’t read the rest of the series you might want to stop here*


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.


I could not have asked for a more fitting and beautiful ending to this stunning series. The book is as fast paced as the first novel, maybe even more so: it’s the end of the world, in simple terms, and our beloved Kell, Lila, Alucard and Rhy are trying to hold it together. All with the help of one surprising ally: Holland. Together, they have to find a way to trap Osaron and put everything back in place.

With the major discovery at the end of A Gathering of Shadows pertaining to Lila’s magic, the world is really turned upside down. And she has got to learn to master her skills fast, since there’s no time to train her properly. She, Kell and Holland are the world’s best bet to win against Osaron.

We learn a whole lot more about the nature of this villain, his motivations and powers. But he’s not the only one in trying to take London: Rhy has to deal with some political adversaries trying to take advantage of the situation so as to overrun his kingdom. Not an easy thing to manage when walking outside could potentially turn you into the puppet of an evil being.

Schwab also delivers on some promises of hers: we get more of Lila being a badass pirate (favorite lady of fiction, right there) and a certain relationship we’ve been shipping finally… well, I did promise no spoilers, right?

The ending was beautiful, but honestly, I’m still dying for more. The author closes off the series quite nicely, but still leaves us with a few questions. I hope our beloved characters come back: the world she’s crafted is too fantastic to leave!


Note from Sarah: you might be wondering why, if I’ve been raving about this book so much, I’ve taken so dang long to read it. Well, it’s because I really didn’t want the series to end. I both wanted to know what happens next and didn’t want to bring myself closer to the end! First book this has happened to me in a while.

A Darker Shade of Magic: a Kniterary Afghan Block

Recently we introduced a new aspect of Readcommendations: Bookcrafting.

The Kniterary Afghan is going to be the biggest project that we’re crafting; it’s a full blanket constructed of thirty five squares made to look like our favorite book covers.

We’ve chosen V. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, which we reviewed a few weeks ago, for our first cover. I couldn’t be more excited for how it’s come out.

The pattern that we’ve created can be done in either stranded colorwork, double knitting (with a bit of duplicate stitch for certain parts), or cross-stitching. I’ll be doing my entire blanket in double knitting with duplicate stitch, but mine will not be reversible.

You can download the pattern for this block here: ADSOMPattern.

A Darker Shade of Magic

by V.E. Schwab

Reviewed by SA and KM

Magic. Multiple Londons. A coat with more than two sides. A Darker Shade of Magic the most fantastic fantasy novel in ages, full of amazing characters, incredible world building, and, to top it off, a fast paced adventure that will leave you wanting for more.


Multiple Londons, multiple worlds that Kell can travel between, as one of the only men left in the world with the magic to do so. Red London, his home, a London full of live, vibrant magic; Grey London, a gritty, dirty London where magic is but a dream; and White London, ruled by tyrants, lay superimposed, only accessibly to the few who can travel between them. Magic is fought for, revered or controlled, but a certain fear lurks – stories of Black London, which had fallen years ago, warn of what happens when Magic is allowed to fester.

Though an ambassador for the red crown, Kell smuggles items between world, bringing small pieces of magic to where there is none, for a price. But when he is set up and accused of treason, he must unite with Delilah Bard, a cunning cross dressing thief and wannabe pirate, to set things right. 

Things are not always what they seem, and the two must fight tooth and nail not just to survive, but to save all the worlds at once. And time is running out.


SA: Fast paced and utterly gripping, A Darker Shade of Magic is one of those novels that surprises you at every turn. Though you can’t tell this immediately: as the novel begins, I completely expected political intrigue, with royal power dynamics between the Londons, but the author was quick to change every assumption I had made. Schwab creates an incredible world, establishing the rules of magic, before throwing us head first into a race against time. It’s a fast, whirlwind plot, that will actually leave you breathless (I know I was).

Kell and Lilah are the heart and soul of this novel. Kell is a little rough around the edges, a clever, talented Antari, a magician capable not only of manipulating all the elements, but also able to travel between worlds. Lilah in a word, is a badass. She’s a crossdressing thief with dreams of owning a ship and being a pirate. They are an oddly matched pair, and there’s chemistry between them, even if there is no romantic interest between them. They balance each other out – the cool headed and hot headed – and their varied perspectives enhance the read, breathing life into this world.

KM: Victoria is one of my favorite authors; the way she writes just engulfs you and leaves you with the biggest book-hangover when you’re finished. If you haven’t heard of her, it’s totally okay, but you should jump on reading A Darker Shade of Magic. You shouldn’t stop there; Vicious and The Archived may not be in the same universe, but they all share that spark that makes them shine.

Kell is the type of person we all wanted to be at seventeen (alright, maybe that’s just me): magical and a bit of a rule-breaker. Now, I can’t say what shenanigans you’d get up to if you had the ability to travel through worlds, but I can say I’d be a prankster legend. And I’d escape all those awkward moments where family asks you to come to dinner with all your relatives, “Sorry, bro, I have to be in Black London. Peace out.” It’s probably for the best I don’t have any powers.

There is literally no downside to reading this book. It’s already been released in the UK and the US; it’s already been released in paperback (and the cover art is gorgeous!). I will say though that it has already sold out of warehouses once in the past few weeks since it’s been released, so hop to your nearest bookstore quickly to grab a copy. Victoria’s already writing the sequel; we should have too wait long for more Londons.