Friday, 8 May 2015

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

"Magic bent the world. Pulled it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time those points were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila still felt like a pin in Kell's world. One he was sure to snag on."


Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

My Initial Expectations:

Having read (and disliked) Schwab's young adult series The Archived about a year back, my expectations for this weren't particularly high. Though Schwab's writing style in The Archived series was undeniably beautiful and unique, I had difficulty getting attached in any way to the characters and plot. Because characters and plot are essential to me enjoying a book, I expected to feel the same way about the characters and plot of A Darker Shade of Magic. 

Besides that, the premise itself didn't appeal to me. Parallel universes have a reputation for complexity, something which is extremely hard to pull off in a way that the reader can understand. While I'm not in favor for simplicity, I didn't want a book that would take more effort than usual to follow. 

What I Liked About The Book: 

Let me just start off by saying that this book was so beautifully written that almost every page on my Kobo is crammed with highlight after highlight. Dialogue, descriptions, and word choice in general is perfectly executed. Each London felt like a world, a culture, a people of its own. There were (barely) no questions left unanswered; but at the same the author wasn't trying to shove the world-building down my throat like some fantasy writers do. 

While I wasn't in love with the majority of the characters at first, I grew to love them all to some degree or another by the end of the book-even the villains. It was great to see male leads with such strong emotions. Boys can cry too (and that's not a bad thing)! 

Out of everything in the book however, nothing could compete with the intensive grim scenes and the struggles the characters faced not only with their enemies, but with themselves. The increasingly present dark atmosphere, and how each character dealt with it in turn, kept me hooked from beginning to end. 

What I Didn't Like About The Book:

Though I understand that Schwab can't spill all the characters' secrets into one book, I was super disappointed when the book finished and I was left with a handful of extremely pressing questions unanswered. I won't mention what they are exactly, but they are too major to be ignored.  

I would have loved to see more interaction between Rhy and Kell. They're relationship is so crucial to the plot, and yet they only interact about three times. Schwab could've at least given us a peek into the prince's point of view. It seemed like she showed everyone's point of view but Rhy's.

My Overall Thoughts:

This book took my expectations and threw them out the window. If anything, they raised my expectations for fantasy books even higher than they were before (which I thought would be impossible after reading A Court of Thorns and Roses). I obviously cannot for the next book. Maybe, just maybe I'll Schwab I second go. 

I gave this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads!
Would I recommend this to anyone: Yes!!! Go get this book right now! Do it!
Would I re-read this book: Maybe, just to see if there was anything I missed the first time.

My Reading Progress:

What did you guys think? Have you read Schwab's other books? In your opinion, how do they compare? If you could control any element, which one would it be? If you could live in any London, which one would it be?

Check it out on Goodreads!

1 comment:

  1. I read this book last month and loved it. I’m super excited for the next one in the series.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!