I received a digital advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Fragile Threads of Power by V. E. Schwab. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
I love when a book you’ve been anticipating ends up being just as amazing as you hoped.
So in The Fragile Threads of Power, it has been seven years since the events of A Conjuring of Light, and some things have changed in the four worlds. In Red London, Rhy Maresh is on the throne, but he and his court have been hearing rumblings of a rebellion that seeks to harm him. Meanwhile, a new Antari magician has risen to power in White London, and she’s determined to ensure the flow of magic through her land, whatever the cost. And then there’s Tes, the girl just trying to make ends meet, all the while concealing her strange ability to manipulate the magic that weaves through the worlds. When she comes in possession of a powerful tool, she finds herself swept into a bigger world than she’s ever known—and the fate of her own king might be in her hands.
For the record, I have no idea how I’m going to review this book in a coherent way, both because I adored it and also because it’s technically the fourth novel set in this universe, so avoiding spoilers feels difficult. I’ll do my best, though.
Firstly, Schwab is a brilliant writer. The reader gets just enough backstory to follow what’s happening, what the universe is like, and who the returning characters are, without the plot being bogged down. I suspect that people who haven’t read the first trilogy (Shades of Magic) would manage to follow and enjoy this book—though I would personally recommend reading the trilogy first anyway, for all of the context, and because they’re amazing. And I have to say, coming back to this universe, to Red London specifically, was so much fun. It’s been several years, and the setting can be so fierce and dangerous, yet it feels like I was welcomed back like an old friend, like we’re picking up where we left off.
Another reason Schwab is brilliant is the way she sucks you into the narrative. Juggling multiple storylines with multiple perspectives can’t be an easy undertaking, but the voices are all distinct and engaging. And the way she tends to end sections with slight (or not so slight) cliffhangers before switching to a new POV is diabolical (in a delightful way), because you’re desperate to keep reading. At least I was.
Speaking of POVs, some of these were actually characters from Shades of Magic, which is excellent for me. I love that cast with all my heart, and couldn’t help but grin ear to ear when I saw their names again. It’s fantastic to see them again, how they’ve changed and how they’ve stayed the same, and I just adore their dynamics with each other. Sure, there are high stakes in this world, but put Lila, Kell, Rhy, and Alucard in a room together and I’m going to have nothing but a fantastic time!
That said, the new characters are cool too. I quite liked Tes, Nadiya is intriguing, Ren is a ton of fun, and Kosika is utterly fascinating. The latter in particular had one of the best storylines, and I cannot wait to see where her story goes in the next installment. There was definitely a part, during one of her chapters, where I gasped out loud. Can’t tell you why, but you’ll probably figure it out. At least, if you’ve read Shades of Magic. I can’t imagine it would have quite as much impact without that knowledge. Anyway…
In the end, The Fragile Threads of Power is an absolute blast! The setting is full of magic, power struggles, and intrigue. The various storylines are compelling both individually and in the ways they intertwine. The characters are, obviously, marvelous beyond words, and I love love love them. If you haven’t read the Shades of Magic yet, please do it, so that you can read this new one and understand why I’m basically feral over this series. I can’t wait to hold this story in my hands, and reread it, and I especially can’t wait for the next book! Schwab, you genius!
The Fragile Threads of Power will be published on September 26th, 2023, and I’m counting down the days (for the record, it’s 136).