Review: The Fragile Threads of Power by V.E. Schwab


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VICTORIA “V. E.” SCHWAB is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the acclaimed Shades of Magic series, the Villains series, the Cassidy Blake series and the international bestseller The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Her work has received critical acclaim, translated into over two dozen languages, and optioned for television and film. First Kill – a YA vampire series based on Schwab’s short story of the same name – is currently in the works at Netflix with Emma Roberts’ Belletrist Productions producing. When not haunting Paris streets or trudging up English hillsides, she lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up monsters.

FORMAT/INFO: The Fragile Threads of Power was published by Tor Books on September 26th, 2023. It is told in third person from multiple POVs, including Kell, Lila, Rhy, and Alucard. It is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: It’s been seven years since a malevolent dark magic spread from Black London to White London and Red, leaving destruction and heartbreak in its wake. Now King Rhy of Red London faces a new threat: a rebel group that believes that magic is dying and the king is to blame. Tasked with rooting out these rebels are Lila and Kell, two magicians with the rare ability to travel between the parallel worlds, as well as the king’s consort (and powerful magician) Alucard. But the greatest threat may not come from assassins, but from an unassuming young girl named Tes who has the ability to see and weave the threads of magic that hold the world together…and what can be woven together can be pulled apart.

The Fragile Threads of Power doesn’t miss a beat in immersing its readers back in the world of Schwab’s original captivating trilogy. All your favorite characters are back and acting true to form. Some of them may have evolved in the intervening years, but they’ve done so in a way that feels wholly natural given the events of the first trilogy and seven years to process and react to what happened. And in fact, for many returning characters, you’ll see some flashbacks filling in the gaps of what happened since we last saw them.

As many of these characters are people we’ve met before, the author is able to juggle some additional POVs without feeling a loss of depth. There are some intriguing new players on the field, including Kosika, the new queen of White London, and Tes, a magical tinkerer whose skills are coveted by many. The only downside is that there was a lot of jumping about to cover all the characters, which included five main POVs and several smaller secondary ones.

While the book was fully engrossing, it’s definitely an act one of a larger story. I’m not saying this book is all cliffhanger; you will get closure on certain story arcs and Things Will Happen. But there is definitely a long game at play that we are not privy to yet. In fact, one storyline does not interact with the main plot at all, but is clearly setting events into motion for book two. Whether this all pays off in the long run will only be seen once the trilogy is complete. In fact, I would not be surprised if in future years I adjusted my rating of this book higher or lower based on how the rest of the series delivers on the promises made. Given V.E. Schwab’s solid track record, however, I’m not too worried about the series in the long run.

CONCLUSION: But those are minor notes in an otherwise wonderful return to a favorite world. Having just recently reread all the books in the first trilogy, this latest entry felt like a natural new adventure for characters that I love. And if you haven’t had a chance to reread Shades of Magic, the author has worked in plenty of natural little asides and reminders of past events to help get you back on track. I picked up this book at every opportunity, and the final 100-ish pages I devoured in one sitting as everything came to a head. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been nervous about a continuation of Shades of Magic, but those fears so far have been completely unfounded. Now all that remains is to settle in for the long wait for the sequel to hit shelves.

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