June 25, 2017

REVIEW| A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shade of Magic #1)
V.E. Schwab


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Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. 

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. 

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.


The Cover

UK cover

I've made reference to Schwab's UK covers before in my review for This Savage Song. Simply, I think the Shades of Magic trilogy have stronger covers over in the States.  These are more urban in design; graphic, bold and growing on me. 

I do love how the artist incorporates the four colours that indicate the various versions of London that we learn of in A Darker Shade of Magic- Grey, Red, White and Black

The Content

Let us begin on our protagonists: Kell and Lila. 

I have dreams of writing a character like Delilah Bard. Ambitious and cut throat, all she desires is the ability to travel beyond her cut off point - to explore the sea. If that mean piracy, I'm sold. Anyone else? 

And Kell? Oh, how I just wanted to scoop Kell into a bear hug; I don't think he would appreciate it that much though. It wasn't until his interactions with his adoptive brother, Rhy (pronounced like rye, not Reece) that I truly fell in love with him. That fierce need to protect being integral to understand Kell as a character in ADSOM going on to continue the series.

I've always found it interesting how Schwab reverts gender stereotypes in her books. Male characters are empathetic and sweet where as, her female characters are cut throat and bad ass. Granted that there are exceptions. 
I loved the world that Schwab builds. Every time. They are unique and interesting and there are just so many possibilities that come with them. Her books are ones that I genuinely loose myself in. I read A Darker Shade of Magic in less than five hours. 

I never, ever do that. 

So, why did I knock of a star?

I think it was just because I felt it lacked something in the plot- there wasn't enough substance. This is more character driven and a lot of things need to be established. I needed more from it. I feel like I was just getting used to the four different parallel Londons, I was invested and then it ended. I'm ready and waiting to land my feet straight into A Gathering of Shadows.



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