It’s been seven years since the events at the end of V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light. In Red London, Lila and Kell have been sailing the seas as privateers on her ship, the Grey Barron (They also secretly perform tasks for Red London’s crown.). Rhy Maresh, Kell’s brother, has ascended the Arnesian throne. He has married Nadiya Loreni, and the two now have a daughter named Tieren. Alucard Emery, a former noble and a former privateer, is now the king’s consort, rounding out the royal family and working tirelessly to protect the king. His latest concern is a group intent on overthrowing the king. They call themselves The Hand, but no one knows who they are or, more importantly, who is leading them.
In White London, a new Antari has appeared to take the place of Holland Vosijk. Her name is Kosika. She is young and not of noble blood. But she is learning. She is learning how to be a queen. Learning how to heal White London from the reign of magical abuse from the Astrid and Athos Dane while they were on the throne. And she will do anything to save her kingdom.
Tes works in a small repair shop in Red London called Once Broken, Soon Repaired. She’s a tinkerer and she repairs things. She’s VERY good at her job because Tes has a closely guarded secret: she can see the threads of magic woven through her world telling her how the magic works. But, unlike Alucard Emery, who shares Tes’ gift of being able to see the world’s threads of magic, Tes can touch the threads of magic. She can manipulate and repair them. As a result, Once Broken, Soon Repaired has an excellent reputation for the quality of their work. When a young man, who is clearly not well, demands an object be repaired, Tes takes it and promises she will try to fix it. When Tes examines it and realizes what it is, it both terrifies and amazes her. And when the assassins come to her shop looking for it, she wishes she had never seen it and had turned the young man away. Because this object, in the wrong hands, has the potential to alter not only Red London, but all four worlds and everything in them.
In this novel V.E. Schwab returns to the four Londons of her Darker Shades of Magic trilogy to take readers on another grand adventure. In this, the first of another proposed trilogy, Schwab starts a number of years after the events at the end of A Conjuring of Light (the final book in the original trilogy). She brings back many of the characters that survived The Black Night and skillfully uses them to introduce readers to the new characters and circumstances that she introduces in this new book.
Schwab deftly weaves together just enough information of the events of the original trilogy with the occurrences of the new novel. The result is a book that simultaneously provides a refresher for people who may not have read the original books recently, while also providing background to new readers who may be picking up this book with no knowledge of the earlier works, while leaving them with surprises to be discovered should they choose to seek them out.
As with all of her books, Schwab’s characters are marvelously drawn. They are compelling, complex, and accurately reflect the worlds in which they, and we, live.
While it is true that the majority of the action takes place in the four Londons (as was also true of the earlier books), Schwab expands and describes a bit more about the worlds in which the kingdoms exist, allowing readers to learn more about the four Londons and their inhabitants.
It has been almost nine years since V.E. Schwab introduced readers to Kell Maresh and the incomparable Lila Bard in A Darker Shade of Magic. Now Schwab has returned with a new story. It introduces Kosika and Tes, but also includes our favorite magician and privateer. The wait for this new story has been well worth it! This new trilogy is off to a marvelous start!