The Shades of Magic trilogy is quite a ride and A Conjuring of Light is no exception. For a book that has to do with multiple Londons, magic and power this is book isn’t really about any of those things. It’s about where do people really belong. Kell is an Antari, a very powerful magician that can travel between worlds. He is raised as a Prince, treated as the brother and son of the Royal family in Red London but never truly feeling that he is one of them because he knows he can’t leave. Rhy is the crown prince of Arnes in Red London and for all his privilege and charm he has no magic. There are no rules or reason as to why some people have magic and while others don’t. Rhy is the heir to the throne but feels unworthy because he doesn’t have any magic and in this world is seen as a weakness. Lila is talented thief from Grey London struggling to get by. She ran away from home when she was young and has been running ever since. She had no friends as she sees any kind of attachments as a weakness she cannot afford because she has big dreams of seeing the world. Holland grew up an White London, a hard world that Magic has been slowly going away thanks to it’s nearness to Black London. In his London magic is a gift and curse those who have it have power and those who don’t will do anything to get it. Holland is an Antari like Kell and for that reason he is both feared and targeted. He grew up with stories of a King that will bring back magic to his world and he dreams of being that King but he suffers greatly from those who loved and cared for. Alucard was born to the aristocracy but was cast out of his family because of who he loved and now travels the seas a Privateer for the Crown. All of them are powerful in their own rights and all of them are searching for their place in their world or worlds. Their stories is what makes this series so compelling. As they all struggle to overcome a power far greater then them individually it was their discovering of themselves and overcoming their own fears that allowed them to overcome the darkness and save their world and themselves. One of the themes throughout the book is that magic needs a balance. Just like the Force for there to be peace the Light must balance the Dark. Magic needs to be balanced with non-magic because even Magic has it’s limits. Black London was destroyed before the action of the trilogy because Magic had no counterbalance and burned it down. For Kell, Lila, Rhy, Holland and Alucard, they are all looking for that counterbalance in their lives and until they found it they couldn’t defeat Osaron who was pure magic. I feel like I’m getting real deep here but I think this is true in all of our lives. The Shades of Magic is truly entertaining series. It did have few bumps along the way. I said of the second book about how it started off slow and a little harder to get into and this book I felt had a little unnecessary side trip to a mysterious black market, in the end these are minor missteps to a enjoyable trilogy. A trilogy that I wonder if may become more one day because I think she left things open to a return to Grey London in the future. I kinda hope so because I would love to visit Kell, Rhy, Lila and Alucard again.
It was a great year for books and some of my favorite series ended this year. I’m looking back at some of the series I loved that gave us their last chapters in 2017.
- Prisoner’s of Peace Duology by Erin Bow -This was an unexpected ending as I didn’t know it was even in the works before I bought it. The Swan Riders, the follow up to the Scorpio Rules was quite a ride. Greta forged her own path to save her people but not everyone was ready to let her go.
- Firebug Duology by Lish McBride – Lish McBride has left it open for a return to this series but for now Pyromantic is the last book of the Duology. I do hope we get more adventures with Ava, Lock and Ezra because these books have been nothing but delightful
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Series by Jenny Han – I thought this series was over before and while I enjoyed it I’m not sure if Forever and Always, Lara Jean was truly necessary because I felt Lara Jean ended up in the same place she was before. I will make allowance that her decided to go to school out of state was a big growth for her.
- Reawakened Trilogy by Colleen Houck – This one I’m glad ended because I’m not sure I would kept up with it for another book. I just never really connected with the characters I did with her last series, The Tiger’s Saga. I am very happy that she will be going to back to her Tiger’s in 2018.
- Chronicles of Nick Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Technically, Nick Gautier’s story will continue in a new series but the narrative that is Chronicles of Nick is at an end. I can’t tell you how much I love Nick and I’m not ready to let him go.
- Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Trilogy by Rick Riordan – This was a groundbreaking series in a lot of ways. Positive representation of Muslims, Queer, Trans and those with disabilities is so important and to have all of them represented in the main cast of characters is amazing. Thank you Rick!
I can’t believe that I haven’t written about this series yet. It’s one of my favorite series to go back and read. In particular, it’s my go-to series when I’ve finished one book but the book I want to read next is coming in a couple of days. (Like for instance, I’ve finished My Lady Jane but A Court of Wings and Ruin, The Dark Prophecy and Always and Forever, Lara Jean comes out of Tuesday) I usually don’t want to start a new book that I might not finish before they come out so Unearthly or one if it’s sequels, Hallowed or Boundless because I’ve read them so many times, I can skip over parts or not feel bad if I don’t finish. It’s a romance, it’s a comedy. It has some action! and it has one of the most swoon worthy love interest of any teen novel. Unearthly is about Clara, a half human half angel, who moves with her family to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to fulfill her purpose. All Angelbloods, as they are known, are put on this earth to carry out some divine purpose. For Clara it starts when she starts having visions about meeting a boy her age in the woods during a forest fire and wouldn’t you know that guy is super dreamy too. Christian is the guy in high school that every girl has a crush on and every boy wants to be. However, he’s the guy that makes me swoon. That title guys to the other love interest. Tucker Avery. Tucker Avery is a cowboy. He wears cowboy boots and hat. He rides in rodeos and is very outdoorsy. He would be the perfect boyfriend. They relationship starts off in the stereotypical bickering back and forth before they realize how much they love each other. Aww.
I would say the real theme of the series is fate and destiny and how much control do we have over our future. Clara is not your normal teenager. She has Angel blood in her and because of that is she expected to carry out her purpose. At first she is all about it. If it means getting to know Christian, the hot boy is school, she is all for it but what does divine really want from her. Is she only supposed to save Christian from the forest fire? Are they supposed to be a couple? Is God trying to set her up on a date? She discovers that finding out her purpose in life is not that easy and only gets more complicated when a.) she starts to fall in love with Tucker and b.) she finds out that she has more in common with Christian then she thought. How much about her future does she get the decide and how much of it has already been planned for her. She is impulsively drawn to Christian but is that because she is supposed to because of her purpose or does she really have feelings for him and him for her? And if she is supposed to be with Christian then why does she fall in love with Tucker. (because he’s perfect! but I digress)
All the while she’s trying to find out why she was put on this earth and fighting evil Angels, she still has to dodge of the landmines of attending high school. Taking test, finding new friends and keeping them. Going to Prom. It’s not easy but an Angelblood in high school. Clara is able to navigate all of these things thanks to other awesome character, Angela, another Angelblood. Together help each other to figure out each other purposes and the other mysteries of being half angel. Their friendship is one of those great but sadly rare in fiction, solid friendships between two girls. They truly love and support each other throughout the everything. Yes, they have their disagreements but when it matters, they are there for each other. They push each other to be better. Challenge each other to learn and know more about who they are and what they are supposed to. There really should be more relationships like this featured in YA novels. Too often female friendships get pushed aside once the heroine starts a relationship. But then again, Angela is not someone who would ever let a boy become between her and her best friend. So yes, go read this series. It’s the perfect weekend getaway book. Just don’t let the cheesy covers scare you away.
April 2016 was our most successful month page views wise. We had 589 views, which beat our previous record of 552 in December 2015. It made me wonder what were we writing about a year ago to get so much traffic. Well, The Raven Cycle and Maggie Stiefvater. It’s hard to believe that the The Raven King came out a year ago. That it has been a year since we found out if Gansey, Blue, Ronan and Adam would find the sleeping Welsh King and If Blue and Gansey would kiss and if Gansey would die. Those mysteries have been solved. Thankfully, we know that we haven’t read the last of the Gang as Maggie is working on a trilogy about Ronan. Whee!!!
My editor is going to hate me, but I just outlined three books for a Ronan-centered trilogy.
— Maggie Stiefvater (@mstiefvater) August 7, 2016
And we have another Maggie book coming in October. So we have a lot to look forward to but let’s take a moment, in honor of the 1 year anniversary of the release of The Raven King and the end of the The Raven Cycle, to look at everything we have ever written about the series.
I’m prepping for the release of Pyromantic by going back and rereading the first book in the series, Firebug. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you do!
This February Beth and I are going to be doing something we’ve talked about but haven’t yet done. We’re going to be reading a book together (or, three books as the case may be). Starting February 1st, we will be reading March by John Lewis. This award winning book tells the story of Congressman John Lewis’s coming of age in the Civil Rights movement. We invite you to join us in this reading. As we read, we will be posting our thoughts and open-ended questions. We hope that you will join us for the reading and some discussion.
This series was different in that it billed itself as having the villain as the protagonist. I argued in my review of the last book, The Rose Society that Adelina wasn’t really the true villain of the story. While she does commit several villainous acts on her way to power she is just as much a victim as anyone else. I also argued that Teren, in his religious fervor was the character to be most feared then any of them. After finishing The Midnight Star, I feel a little justified and also not. It starts out with Adelina and her Roses conquering another country by fear. She is merciless in her rule. She has taken all the power away from the un-marked and given it to the marked. She kills anyone who speaks out against her and punishes her family. She is by no means a heroine to be worshiped. She is also a young girl who has been bullied, abused and marginalized her whole life. In her mind she is righting the wrongs. Taken power and given it back to the powerless. I’m not saying it’s justified or what she did was right but I can also understand her too. A crisis bigger then her own fears aligns her once again with the daggers and gives her a path of redemption. Raffalle has figured out the origin of the blood fever that lead to the Young Elites powers. They was a rift in the mortal and the immortal world that allowed the powers of the Gods to effect the mortal world. It’s now poisoning them. Their powers are turning against them. Lucent, who could fly, bones are hallowing out. Violetta’s power to block others including her own is not overcoming her. Adelina’s voices in her head are her own illusions overtaking her. The only way to save them and the world is to go to where the rift occurred and offer to give their powers back. Now these enemies will have to work together but how can there when there has been so much blood already spilled and the body count in this book is pretty high as well. I wouldn’t say it had a happy ending but really the only ending that it could have. It was bittersweet. I will miss the lush atmosphere of this book. Stylized after a medieval society, Marie Lu gave her settings life and beauty. It was a good series and enjoyable read but year not going to lift you up.
It’s been awhile since I did one of these. In fact it’s been 5 months. Oops. I think it’s about time I did another one, don’t you think? I can’t think of a better series to welcome back this column then Necromancer and Firebug series’ by Lish McBride. Really, I can’t believe I have waited this long to write about them. It’s actually two different series but they take place in the same world, just on opposite coasts. Necromancer consists of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone. Two of the best book titles in history of literature. I decided to read the first book based on the title alone. With a title like Hold Me Closer, Necromancer it had to be good right? Firebug at the moment is the only book in it’s series but the sequel, Pyromantic, another great title, comes out in March of next year. (I hope, I’m pretty sure. It’s released date has been pushed back more then once to my chagrin) They both take place in the underground world of the supernaturals. Sam, our hero in Necromancer is a necromancer. When he is discovered by another Necromancer he brought into a world of werewolves and other supernaturals creatures that he didn’t even know exist but now is in the thick of it. You’ll think about Seattle in a different way after reading this book. Ava, our little firebug from Firebug, is forced to work for the Coterie, a magical mafia. She along with her friends, Lock and Ezra, she must track down creatures of all kinds who are behind in their payments or doing something they are not supposed to.
So why do I like these books so much? For one thing they are hilarious! Like laugh out loud funny you just can’t help yourself. The situations the characters get in are at times so ridiculous and absurd it’s just too funny. They are also very original. Sure, there are a lot of other books that feature werewolves, ghosts, nymphs and other supernatural beings but nothing is like this. I’m not sure how to describe the weirdness of these books but they just work. There is also a realness to them as well. Sam and Ava are both great protagonists. They both find themselves in situations that are out of their control but with the help of their friends and their own gumption they find ways out of them. They both have a little sassiness to them that I love in my characters. The supporting characters are more then just comic relief or filler but true characters in their own right.
Firebug came out two years ago and I have been waiting (mostly) patiently for Pyromantic to come out. Like I said earlier, publication has been pushed back a few times because well life I guess. Lish Mcbride is not just an author but also a bookseller as well. The biggest secret of the publication world is that just because you have a book published doesn’t mean you are set for life. Most authors don’t live off of their writing. They have to have day jobs to make ends meet. Recently Lish started a Patreon page. If you not familiar with Patreon, it’s sort of a crowd sourcing website for creators and artist. You can pledge to give so much money a month to an artist and in return you get exclusive material from them. Lish so far has posted a new short story and read a chapter from Pyromantic. It’s been satisfying so far. It ties me over until her new book comes out and I also can feel good about supporting an author I love. It’s a cool way to support artists and all for that. So before Pyromantic comes out, I suggest you read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, Necromancing the Stone and Firebug and read her public post on patreon page. You will not be disappointed.
Let’s try something different in this review. Let’s just talk about what I love about this book and this series (now that I have finished Lair of Dreams!!!)
1. Evie O’Neill is the Elephants Eyebrows, which I assume in 20’s slang for the Bees Knees. She’s joyful, funny, sarcastic, brave and yes a bit spoiled but at her core she wants to help and make difference. If that happens to get her name in the papers so be it.
2. All of the female characters are awesome. Mabel, Evie and Theta are all completely different. I mean seriously, I don’t think you could find different girls. Well, you probably could but as different as they are they compliment each other. Yes, they fight, yes they have their falling outs but when it matters, they are there for each other.
3. The guys are not bad either. Sam, Jericho, Henry and Memphis all have book boyfriend potential. You have bad boy Sam with a heart of gold. Studious Jericho who is more then he appears to be and mysterious Memphis with a poets heart and brother’s loyalty. Henry is the class clown.
4. Libba Bray does a great job of setting a tone of 20’s optimism with darkness and foreboding of something big that is about to happening.
5. You can tell that a lot of research went in to writing of this novel. Everything from the tone, to the slang to the description of clothes and city to the politics and social issues that really brings you into the time and truly makes for a lush reading.
6. I sorta can’t believe that I’ve made it this far without mentioning their super powers! The story revolves around a group of 17-18 years old who start to discover they have strange powers. Like, walking in dreams, reading objects for a person’s past, seeing into the future or healing the sick. It’s like an X-Men origin story!
7.The big bad is truly terrifying but nothing is truly terrifying to me then someone who truly believes that what they are doing is for good even though it is bat shit crazy!
8.Speakeasies, night clubs, Follies and so much more of the Roaring 20’s.
9.For all the optimism of the 20’s, Bray is not afraid to touch on the less happy things from the era, like racism, the Chinese immigration laws, religious fervor and eugenics movement.
10. The diversity of characters. Memphis is black and Henry is gay. Not to mention it’s filled with characters from all spectrums of life in smaller roles as well and more of those characters to come in the sequel.