“Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don’t want to die – dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were actually doing before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”
― V.E. Schwab,
Rating: 5/5 Stars
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.
Let me just start this review by saying, V.E. Schwab is a genius. Glad we could get that out of the way early. Okay, we all should be aware by now that I have a love affair with V.E. Schwab’s novels. Between our discussion on This Savage Song and my review on A Darker Shade of Magic you should be able to tell that I am indeed a fan. In this way this book was no different from her other books. I loved it.
Schwab is a master weaver. She seamlessly offers world-building and character development into this book without it ever feeling like an info-dump. The Shades of Magic series is set in a very intricate world. The magic is complex as are the politics. Despite the intricate story the text is very accessible. I was never confused about the magic system or the world. It was laid out beautifully but not predictably.
I flew through this book. Seriously, I did not want to put it down. The ebbs and flows of the plotline kept me transfixed. I lost interest throughout the story. In some books there is an imbalance. That imbalance was not present in AGOS. There was a perfect balance of intimate character moments as well as epic battles. I was not left wanting anything more from this book.
Another thing I loved about this book and Schwab’s viewpoint on characters is that they are not wholly good nor evil. They all live in this grey area that is realistic. Because, of that they are redeemable and condemnable at the same time. I constantly find myself going back and forth about how I feel (or should feel) about certain characters. It make is fun and way more interesting. Schwab’s characters have layers and are constantly evolving. I love trying to figure out what their next decision may be.
The only complaint I have about this book is that I can’t get my hands on A Conjuring of Light fast enough. Caitlynn, is holding them hostage (her boyfriend is amazing and bought us signed copies for Christmas) and I’m going through withdraws. I need it. Now.