Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1)
Author: V.E Schwab
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Genre: Fantasy // Adventure // Magic // (New) Adult
Format: Physical
Source:  Publisher

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 (goodreads)

If V.E Schwab didn't have my attention before, she definitely does now!

Plot: Kell is one of the last magicians who is able to travel between the three remaining Londons. When his side activity of smuggling in otherwordly gifts for the highest bidder lands him in hot water, he is in for an adventure. And what an adventure it was. I made note that A Darker Shade of Magic is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's masterful storytelling. The pacing is absolute perfection and Schwab knew continously threw in surprises that kept me on my toes while reading. I know the author has mentioned many times that this is NOT a standalone novel, and that we should expect future installments, but to be quite honest, I would have been happy if A Darker Shade of Magic were a standalone. The ending was so nice that I closed the book with a smile on my face. 

Characters: Kell is an egninma to me still, there are clearly things about this past that will be revealed in future books, but I am impatient and I want to know now. All of the side characters were vividly described and I felt like I was watching a movie the entire time. Lila is my new spirit animal as she is just a badass. She's a no-nonsense kind of girl and refuses to fall into the typical role of a woman in 19th century London. 

World Building: As I said, I never took this experience as a reading a book. Everything was so vividly explained and all of the characters were just so complete that I thought I was watching a TV show (and what a badass TV show that would be). Each London is different from the hierarchy right down to how it smells. I just hope that Schwab lets us explore Black London a  bit more. 

Short N Sweet: A Darker Shade of Magic was a thrilling book with characters who are not perfect, and thus feel real. This is great title for anyone who is a fan of action and fantasy novels!


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