Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - book 2 of trilogy
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC*
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.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
This is my favourite book of the series (after all, it is the second book of a trilogy). The first time I read it, I literally couldn’t put it down and completed the book in one sitting.
My favourite thing about this book, by far, was the relationship between Rhy and Kell. I usually care least about characters and their relationships, more focused on the plot, but I adored the characters. Schwab has a real talent for portryaing the complicated, human relationships in an enthralling way.
There’s far more time spent with them together, which means we can explore their bond further. I love sibling dynamics where they’ll do anything for each other while still having their frictions.
I particularly enjoyed the way the events of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC was affecting them. Bound together by Kell’s life, there’s a complicated, fascinating sense of constantly trying to apologise to each other even as circumstances trap them. This dynamic plays off perfectly with Maxim (the king).
Kell and Lila’s relationship is squee-worthy, a seesaw of magnetism, loneliness and desire. They have some amazing scenes (the ballroom and then courtyard). I was torn between wanting more time with them together, and also liking how the scarcity made them even more special.
As for the plot, the magical tournament is such a fun display of magic. The magic is explored and shown off, a stage-show of delights. At the same time, it doesn’t become repetitive, as much of the focus is on Lila and Kell – Lila’s desire to prove herself and enjoy the magic, and Kell’s need to let off steam and let himself breathe.
The ending is an abrupt, wrenching clifhanger, and I am so glad I discovered this series after the trilogy was complete and could dive right into A CONJURING OF LIGHT.
Read my reviews of other books by V. E./Victoria Schwab:
Shades of Magic (this series):