Saturday, March 21, 2015

Book Review - A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V. E. Schwab
Pages: 400 pages
Publisher: Tor books (Titan books, UK ed.)
Dates read: March 18th to March 21st (UK Paperback Ed.)
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Goodreads synopsis:

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.
Rating: 5/5 stars

Having just read Vicious, I already knew that I was in love with V.E. Schwab's writing when I started A Darker Shade of Magic. What I did not expect, however, is to love it as much as I did. Even more than Vicious, which is saying a lot.

Like with Vicious, V.E. Schwab's writing is absolutely amazing. The descriptions of the different Londons, the way people dress, act, speak, etc, in each and every single one of them was so clear and vivid. ADSoM's world was so well thought-out and that is very obvious in the writing. I felt like I was actually in that world at some points in the book. However, because ADSoM's world is so vast, there are a few paragraphs that can seem long and a bit info-dumpy. But I promise, it's definitely worth it for the rest of the amazingness of this book.

I also really liked the way that magic was interpreted in this book. Ever fantasy novel has a different take on magic, and it's awesome to read all the different ones, even if some are better than others. In ADSoM, magic is seen like a living thing, something that you need to control before it starts controlling you. It was just really interesting to read about the way magic works in this world - and I'm excited to see more of it in the sequel.

Kell and Rhy were definitely my favourite characters (I have a thing for princes, okay?), followed closely by Lila, even if I found her annoying and unnecessarily stupid at times (throwing the sword made from evil-black-magic out the window? Really?). Each character had their own personality, their own voice and they each distinct and interesting. It would have been nice to see more of Holland, the only Antari (Traveller) other than Kell, but then again, maybe there'll be more on him in the sequel.

While we're on the subject of characters - DON'T GET ATTACHED. Seriously. There are a lot of minor characters that get killed off and I just felt so sad for every single one of them. I guess that's a testament to V.E. Schwab's character-building, that I loved even the minor characters who got not even ten pages so much that I was sad when they died.

A Darker Shade of Magic is an amazingly beautiful fantasy novel (not YA, as I learned when I searched through Chapters frantically to find it). There was so much hype surrounding this novel that I was afraid it wouldn't live up to it, or even wouldn't be as great as it was being made out to be (like All The Bright Places). That wasn't the case at all with ADSoM. It's beautiful, written amazingly with characters that you will fall in love with. And the end will leave you wanting for more.

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