Shades of Magic, Vol. 1: The Steel Prince (#1 – #4) by V.E. Schwab & Andrea Olimpieri

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“Here, our story begins…”

I read the entire A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, and I ended up giving them all three stars. I am absolutely obsessed with Victoria’s mind and worlds, and her characters are truly some of the best I’ve read, but the plot and events always held me back from completely loving them. But when I found out we were going to get to learn more about Rhy’s father (adoptive father of Kell) and the events that lead him to being King, I knew I couldn’t resist. But here I am, still surprised that I ended up giving the prequel graphic novel series start three stars.

Maxim Maresh is only a prince in this brand-new graphic novel series, but he is the sole heir and the king in waiting in Red London. Yet, he wants to be so much more than that, and he wants to prove that he will be capable and earn his rightful place as king one day. Maxim and his family are also people of color, with obvious dark brown skin, but it is never stated what ethnicity in this made up alternate historical London. And he has earned himself the title of The Steel Prince because of his magical affinity with steel.

But in this bind-up, Maxim gets involved with pirates, and magical tournaments, and figuring out who he wants to be. Yet, this first volume barely mentions the parallel Londons, which (to me) is the coolest part of this world, completely. And then with this elaborate magic system finally being visualized, it just felt clunky, and like it missed the mark completely on something that could have been groundbreaking.

“You fight like a royal. Like the weapons are made of wood. Like no one means to hurt you. But this is not London, your highness.”

But my biggest problem with this graphic novel was honestly the art. Trust me, it kills me to say this, but I just never grew to like the style of this book. And especially with something as cool as the world of ADSOM, I feel like an artist really could have turned this into one of the most aesthetically pleasing series of all time, especially with red, grey, black, and white having such a pivotal role in this world. But I don’t have an art degree, so don’t listen to me. I’m just stating what I would have liked more for this story! The artist is still very talented. And if this is your favorite art style of all time? You are valid.

I still really enjoyed this bind-up and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. I hope we get to see more cameos of characters we love, too! And if you are already a fan of VE Schwab and this breathtaking world, I bet you will absolutely love this addition! Content and trigger warnings violence, blood, and torture.

Okay, so like with every graphic novel that I review, I always do a breakdown on what happens briefly in each individual issue. So, the next portion of this review will have SPOILERS! Obviously, I won’t give away anything too pivotal, but I will talk about some of the themes that each issue had inside.

ISSUE ONE:
We get to meet Maxim, the prince and sole heir to the throne. We also get to meet the king, and his dad, Nokil. And we also get our first glimpse at Maxim wanting to be more than the prince in waiting, and he wants to prove himself and his fighting abilities.

ISSUE TWO:
We are introduced to Arisa, the pirate queen, and we get to learn about a tournament where the winner will fight her to prove themselves worthy. Also, we get to see the Black Torch, and you know my pub loving heart was so dang happy.

ISSUE THREE:
Isra, the pirate queen’s niece, and Maxim are both battling in the tournament where we see so many different magic abilities, and we learn there are no rules and anything goes.

ISSUE FOUR:
Things do not go Maxim’s way, but he is rescued. Then, after, he receives a letter from his father, asking him to come. But he declines because he still has so much more to learn.

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City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare

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1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★

“But Heaven will not help you; you know that as well as I. That is why men summon demons and not angels, is it not?”

Yeah, this is easily my favorite book in The Mortal Instruments, so far. I think one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed City of Lost Souls so much was because it is told through so many of the side character’s point of view, some of which we have never seen before. Also, a vast majority is told through Simon’s perspective which is all I truly want anyways.

I also actually thought this book had good twists and turns, too. I was impressed so many times while reading, and I truly never wanted to put this 500+ page book down, which says something all on its own. Like, I see some reviews saying that this book was slow, but I didn’t feel like that at all. And like… did these people read the mess that is City of Fallen Angels? Lord, help me.

Okay, my review is going to touch on a couple key things that happened in this book and things that have happened in previous books, so please use caution reading the rest of this review if you have not read this book and its predecessors! And as always, I’m going to do a little mini character breakdown on my thoughts and feelings on all the main characters in this book.

Jace – I still very much dislike Jace, but he was a bit more bearable in this book. Probably because he was barely in it, and when he was he was being halfway possessed or whatever.

Clary – Clary was actually the one to annoy me in this book. Especially after reading about Tessa; Clary is just not that great of a character. And so many of the choices she made in this book were beyond questionable. I get that she loves Jace, but the world is a lot bigger than Jace Herondale, Lightwood, Morgenstern, Voldemort, what the fuck ever he wants to be called.

Simon – Simon is my second favorite character in all things Shadowhunters, I think. I know he messed up big in City of Fallen Angels, and I will call him out for it all day long, but he really had a pure and sweet redemption arc in this, that I think was handled very healthily and very realistically. And my otp are living their best lives. Bless.

“Okay. I’ve got a good one.” Simon stroked Isabelle’s hair, feeling her lashes flutter against his neck as she closed her eyes. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”

Isabelle – Here is the real tea: I think Izzy is my favorite character in this entire universe. Like, every book I fall more and more in love with her. And in City of Lost Souls, seeing her learn what it means to be vulnerable and that it is okay… friends, I have a lot of feelings. And seeing her finally take down her walls and give her heart away to someone who she deems as worthy? More beautiful than words.

Magnus – I love this character so much. Him realizing his worth and value at the end of this book? It meant everything to me. I feel like Alec has constantly been treating him like shit, honestly. But he went way too far in this one, and I’m so happy that Magnus realized he didn’t deserve that kind of abuse. Even though I know they are totally going to get back together, let’s be real. But this time it will be on more equal ground. Oh, and I want to know everything about his father immediately!

Alec – This is actually the first book that I didn’t hate or borderline hate Alec, which is funny because he almost did a hella bad thing in this book. But I think it’s because Cassie opened up the storylines and allowed us to see behind the eyes of some of the side characters in this book. And I think that very much benefitted Alec.

Luke – I always and forever will love Luke and his unconditional love towards so many characters in this world. But…

Jocelyn – Jocelyn was highkey annoying as hell in this book. Like, I get she’s upset that she birthed a demon or whatever, but hearing her talk about wishing to kill her baby in the crib and stuff really wasn’t enjoyable to read. And like, she always tries to be so strict, after just being so lenient. I don’t know, I just really didn’t like her in this book.

Aline – I said in my review for City of Glass, “Is this a new queer and Asian character” because your girl was hyped. And then she comes into this book in a f/f relationship? The blessing. Wow. How perfect.

Maia & Jordan – I will talk more about them below, but they were one of the things I disliked most about this book. Miss me with abuse apologist storylines forever, please.

“Of course, not thinking about the ex-boyfriend who had broken your heart and turned you into a werewolf was a lot easier when he wasn’t standing right in front of you, wearing a green shirt that hugged his leanly muscled body in all the right places and brought out the hazel color of his eyes.”

Seelie Queen – Still one of my favorites, but Clary still playing with fire. I need so much more from her and her court.

“The Fair Folk are an old people; we do not make hasty decisions but first wait to see in what direction the wind blows.”

Camille – I don’t believe it for a second.

Maureen – But if true; damn, girl!

Sebastian – Like, I honestly did like him as a character until he got all unnecessarily incestuous! But I love his motive, I love him coming back from the dead, and I loved this magical, moving apartment. Again, I think he’s a really strong villain who made me really think about his motives, until the end when shit just got gross.

“You know he doesn’t remember any of it, right? Did he show you a good time, at least? Because I would have.” She tasted bile in her throat. “You’re my brother.” “Those words don’t mean anything where we’re concerned. We aren’t human.”

Okay, I really didn’t want to write this paragraph, but I feel like I have to. The one thing that really bothered me about this book is Cassie Clare’s constant use of incest as a threat and/or just as a storyline. I thought finally, after City of Glass, we were past this, but now with Sebastian coming back, she just doubled-down on the incest. Even in Clockwork Prince I felt like the Tessa going undercover to trick Nate and pretend to be his lover and was gross and unnecessary. But City of Lost Souls is the worst use of incest “angst” yet. And I still feel really gross about the things that Clary did with Jace while Sebastian was in control or whatever. I mean, on top of the fact that he actually attempts to rape her, too. Friends, it’s a hot mess. A really gross, skeezy, uncomfortable hot mess.

“There are worse things than dying,” he said. “And I will do them all to you, little sister, once you’ve drunk from the Cup. And you will like it.”

The only other thing that really bothered me was actually the main reason I one starred City of Fallen Angels; Maia and Jordan are a romance I will never get behind. And in City of Lost Souls their relationship is really magnified. Abuse apologists’ storylines need to be canceled, and they are never okay; not in 2018 and not back in 2010. I’m not here for a Jordan redemption arc and I never will be. And this book really put the band-aid on everything Maia was forced to go through, but Jordan is “so hot” and looks “so good in tight shirts” how could she resist all that good sex from the hands of her abuser? And I felt like he even forced her into a relationship, since he refused to be her friend ONLY something more. Brb, throwing up forever.

“You won’t be my friend.” “I won’t be just your friend. I love you, Maia. I’m in love with you. I always have been. I always will be. Just being your friend would kill me.”

Overall (and besides those two things), I really enjoyed this book and I found it actually difficult to put down. I also believe that this is Cassandra Clare’s best written work yet. The style just felt so much more cohesive and the story felt so much more compelling. This was also the first book that felt like it had a lot of plot and intricate things happening constantly. And there were so many small nods at Clockwork Prince that warmed my heart so very much. Friends, this was really fun book to read, but I can’t wait to (probably, based on all your reactions) get my heart shattered with Clockwork Princess


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Content and trigger warnings for sexual content, incestuous storylines, assault, attempted rape, abandonment, abuse, parental abuse, murder, death, violence, gore, blood depiction, self-harm, and war themes.

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3) by V.E. Schwab

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1.) A Darker Shade of Magic ★★★
2.) A Gathering of Shadows ★★★

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

I have read one book in this series every year for the BooktubeSFF Awards. And every year I enjoy what I’m reading, I close the book pretty pleased, and then I sit down to write my review and start thinking about how these are such big books with so little happening. And I know they are character driven. One of my favorite books of all time is the most character driven thing out there, but for some reason I just don’t love this series like everyone else does.

A Conjuring of Light is the third and final novel in this trilogy that surround four different parallel Londons:
Grey London – is like our real world’s London, with no magic. Delilah Bard is from this London.
Red London – is the home of the main protagonist, Kell, where he and his royal family rule. There is an abundance of magic in this London, most coming from a red river which lights up the whole city.
White London – is a city in war with itself. It was ruled by evil twins, but now has a new king. Everyone in this London tries to fight for magic and power within this corrupt city.
Black London – and is still basically a mystery. It is essentially a lost city, since regular people cannot travel between worlds.

And after the brutal cliffhanger ending that was A Gathering of Shadows, A Conjuring of Light picks right back up after the events! And without saying anything too spoilery, since this is the concluding novel and all, our main character, Kell Maresh, and his home, Red London, are in serious danger. But with the help of a ruthless thief/assassin, Lila Bard, a swoon-worthy pirate, Alucard Emery, the best prince to have ever lived, Rhy Maresh, and a very morally grey Antari, Holland Vosijk, they are trying to save everything they’ve ever known and loved.

“Life isn’t made of choices, it’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”

And even the idea of four different color coded Londons, with a handful of magical people who can travel between them, is so damn genius that I don’t even have words for it. Also, V.E. Schwab is such a talented writer. The way she echoes phrases from different books, or even sentences from previous chapters, is so powerful and is able to evoke all the emotions from me. She truly can weave and craft paragraphs together so expertly and I’m constantly impressed with her writing.

I just feel like not a lot happens in her books. Like, a few big, key, important things happen without question, and storylines get completed, but I just feel like it is such a longwinded journey to get there. And these books are so easily consumable that you don’t really realize until after you’ve closed the book. I mean, at least for me and my personal reading experiences. Seriously, go back and look at my other two reviews; I say the same thing. Also, the big bad villain just fell so very short for me. The magic started off so dang well, but the villain really ended up feeling lackluster to me.

But my biggest complaint about the other two installments in this series is that they don’t read or feel adult to me. But you know what A Conjuring of Light reads and feels like? Adult, without question. Also, just a little caveat, if an author says their work is in a certain age bracket/genre, then it is. I am just saying A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows don’t feel or read like adult fantasy to me, but I’m not saying they aren’t. But ACOL did give me those brutal moments that made me go “okay, this isn’t YA” quite a lot.

Also, trigger and content warnings for abuse, torture, abduction, slavery, captivity, talk of suicide, violence, gore, heavy blood depiction, abandonment, and depiction of grief and PTSD. Oh and I guess sexual content, too, but nothing too graphic. (Also, hello, perverted Melanie here to report that that sex scene was 11/10 and was so smooth and sexy and I actually loved it!)

“I have never known what to make of you. Not since the day we met. And it terrifies me. You terrify me. And the idea of you walking away again, vanishing from my life, that terrifies me most of all.”

But my biggest love for this series is Rhy Maresh, who has completely and without question stole my heart. He is easily my favorite character in this series. My beautiful, pure, cinnamon roll, unbreakable boy. I stan one man from this series, and it’s him. And he deserves everything good in the universe.

Breathtaking art meliescribbles

“We don’t choose what we are, but we choose what we do.”

Overall, take this review with a large grain of salt. I am for sure in the minority with not loving these books as much as everyone else. And even though this isn’t my favorite series, I think Victoria is incredibly talented and I can’t wait to see what she does next. And I truly think that these books get better and better, with A Conjuring of Light being my favorite in the series, and the last couple chapters of this book had me smiling from ear to ear in pure happiness. And I ultimately do feel really fulfilled and happy with the ending. Plus, I’m very interested (especially after gushing with my friend Julie) with reading the graphic novel series set around a character from this world. Also, I have the highest of hopes for the spinoff that Victoria is working on. I just hope I fall completely head over heels in love, instead of only just enjoying.


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Buddy read with Julie! ❤

Readalong for the BooktubeSFF Awards which is being hosted by:
🌑 Samantha from Sam’s Nonsense
🌒 Frankie from Frankie Reads
🌓 Kaitlin from Kitty G
🌔 Rachel from Kalanadi
🌕 Thomas from SFF180
🌖 Connor from Connor O’Brien
🌗 Sam from Thoughts on Tomes
🌘 Chelsea from TheReadingOutlaw
🌑 Elena from Elena Reads Books