Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

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Series: Shades of Magic, #1
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publisher: TOR
Release Date: February 24th, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Adult
Pages: 398
Other Books By Author: The Archived, Vicious


“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”


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 live-trickier than they hoped.


OH. MY. GOSH.

I’M STILL FEELING IT. THAT RARE, MAGICAL FEELING. I’M STILL REELING FROM THE PURE AWESOMENESS OF THIS BOOK. I FINISHED A WEEK AGO, BUT I CAN STILL FEEL IT. THE AURA OF A GOOD BOOK. AMAZING x1000, COMPARABLE TO NOTHING (except maybe The Lord of the Rings.)

Guys, it was just that good. I can’t get over it, and I never will.

Unlike most folks here, I never previously read V. E. Schwab’s books. And (I feel guilty for saying this) I didn’t readVicious yet. I know, I’m getting to it.
The only reason I even read this book in the first place was because of my sister, who did read Vicious. She recommended it to me months before the release date, saying it had an old-timey feel (which I LOVE), and bugged me until I sort of kind of ignored her (whoops). She read the first chapter to me, and to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed (A Darker Shade of Magic starts a bit slow).
I helped her buy the book anyways-
a. because why not
b. it couldn’t be that bad, and
c. (probably my most important reason) the cover was beautiful. I mean, just look at it. CAN YOU NOT SEE THE FABULOUSNESS.

At first, I only intended to read the first five chapters or so, to kind of show off the cover (ahaha guilty). It turned out it wasn’t hard at all. The writing was a-may-zing (that word doesn’t even do this book justice), and the worldbuilding- I could rant about that for hours. No, really. And there were:

LONDONS- SO MANY LONDONS (for those who don’t know, basically parallel universes):
RED LONDON- A flourishing empire
GREY LONDON- A magic-less city. Like our-time London.
WHITE LONDON- A power-hungry world.
BLACK LONDON- …but no one speaks of that mysterious land now…

V.E. Schwab’s writing is absolutely captivating:

Blood was magic made manifest. There it thrived. And there it poisoned. Kell had seen what happened when power warred with the body, watched it darken in the veins of corrupted men, turning their blood from crimson to black. If red was the color of magic in balance—of harmony between power and humanity—then black was the color of magic without balance, without order, without restraint.

The plot is undoubtedly unique, I mean, where else have you read a book about princes and thieves working together to destroy evil? Read the summary NOW. I MEAN IT. Here‘s the sample. Just give it a little patience. A slow beginning, I know.

Can I just take a moment for the characters? THEY ARE THE BEST I’VE EVER READ ABOUT. Okay, so there’s Kell, a prince who feels like he doesn’t belong where he is. And Delilah Bard, a crossdressing lady pirate (<— that’s unique). Then there’s Holland, who raises some questions because he is truly intruiging-
a) Where did he come from?
b) What made him evil, and who taught him ‘to take control of magic’?
c) Why does he harbor negative feelings towards Kell?
d) WHAT IS HIS PAST HISTORY?

I know that was a mouthful, and I need a really good way to sum this up. Fear not, my friends! Let me just say that this book had incredible writing, characters, and plot, and leave it all to the author, who has this little list of all the good things in ADSOM:

-Magic (DUH)
-Cross-dressing thieves (THIEF, to be exact- Delilah Bard)
-(Aspiring) pirates
-Londons (plural) (yesssss…I had like a whole paragraph dedicated to this)
-Sadistic kings (and queens) (I feel like I revealed too much already…read the book and you’ll get this point)
-A royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness (I’ll just pretend I know what this means…)
-More magic (blood magic, elemental magic, bad magic, etc. etc.)
-Epic magicky fights scenes (YES. I READ THOSE SCENES ABOUT FIVE TIMES EACH).
-Angst!
-And coats with more than two sides (read the sample in the Amazon link above and know)

Cover: LOOK AT IT. A masterpiece.


✰✰✰✰✰ // 5 Stars

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