review: a darker shade of magic by v.e. schwab

Published: February 24th 2015
Genres & Keywords: fantasy, adult
Works From Author: Shades of Magic trilogy, Vicious series

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Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

R A T I N G ★★★★

“Purity without balance is its own corruption.”

I have read so many amazing books these past few weeks, and A Darker Shade of Magic was no exception. I feel spoiled.

Such is the quandary when it comes to magic, that it is not an issue of strength but of balance. For too little power, and we become weak. Too much, and we become something else entirely.

For this book to stand out is an accomplishment of its own. I read [book:Six of Crows|23437156] before starting A Darker Shade of Magic, and any lesser book would’ve paled in comparison. I was in such a book funk that this story, which I was so excited to read before SoC, didn’t appeal to me anymore. No book did, to be completely honest.

I gave it a chance, nonetheless, and what a wonderful decision it was!

“Do you know why our worlds are kept separate? It is to keep yours safe. You see, there was a time, ages ago, when they were not so separate. When doors ran between your world and mine, and others, and anyone with a bit of power could pass through. Magic itself could pass through. But the thing about magic is that it preys on the strong-minded and the weak-willed, and one of the worlds couldn’t stop itself. The people fed on the magic and the magic fed on them until it ate their bodies and their minds and their souls.”

((a story like that’ll just sober you up, now won’t it?))

This is a slow-burn kind of story. Not in terms of romance, but in terms of plot. It’s paced differently than many of the books I’ve read before, focusing on world-building, while still keeping the reader interested. It managed to truly created a world that you could almost touch, without doing a mega information dump. Or at least, making you feel like it wasn’t.

However, once the plot begins to pick it, it really picks up. It’s like the author slowly turns up the heat. Where some stories have a big event, the a cool off, then a big event, and onwards, this was like a rollercoaster that just wouldn’t stop climbing. Your heartbeat steadily increases and increases and increases right up until the story ends, or you go into cardiac arrest. Whichever comes first.

As for the characters, Kell is a likable character but Lila is my kind of girl.

“You look more ready to storm a city than seduce a man.”

Fierce, independent, a little morally questionable.

“How did you know?” she asked. “How did you know it wasn’t me?”
Well managed an exhausted smile. “Because she said please.”
Lila stared at him, aghast. “Is that a joke?”

Humor was present but not overpowering, which fits A Darker Shade of Magic perfectly. My only complaint is the transition of POVs. It didn’t follow any rhyme or reason and just when I thought, okay, that’s the last POV, someone completely random would just pop up, confusing the hell out of me.

I can definitely see why this series is such a hit. Incredible world-building, storytelling, and characterization. A wonderful read, indeed.

Some of my predictions: Lila is Antari, we haven’t seen or heard the last of Holland, and Black London isn’t as dead as everybody thinks it is.

((f.d: the visuals above were edited by myself– base images were found on google))

T H O U G H T S ?

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