You know when you are travelling through the book-verse, looking at book blogs, bookstagram and booktube, and one book just keeps on appearing and you want to buy that book? That was what resulted in me picking up this book. So many people were talking about this book/series and my interest was peaked! Turns out, I wasn’t disappointed!
Spoiler Free Review
Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V E Schwab
Published: Titan Books, 2015
Kell is known as one of the last travellers of four different Londons – Grey London, Red London, White London and Black London, the last untraveled since it was cut off from magic. Travelling and wielding magic in these worlds is a rare gift. When Kell finds a powerful magical artefact from a forgotten place in his hands, he ends up on an adventure with an unlikely companion.
I’d like to start of this review by saying that this genre is one I am venturing into, slowly but surely, and I am trying to find my footing. There are so many books in the fantasy genre and it is quite daunting knowing where to start. I’ve read lots of Neil Gaiman, however, and since Schwab’s series was likened to some of his work, I thought this might be an apt stepping stone further into this genre. That, and the fact that everyone is talking about this series, as I said.
The premise and setting of this series is something that really intrigued me – four Londons, what an original idea?! I have visited London before, have loved watching different adaptations set in the city, and felt that London is such a vibrant place to set a book that there could be nothing wrong here – and I was right. Schwab builds a world that, despite rooted in magic, feels incredibly real. Each London is laid out to the reader in an easy-to-access way, which I liked, as I was worried I would find it difficult to distinguish between settings.
The characters were fun and interesting, with rich backstories and relatable personalities. I grew to understand the motives of the characters as the book went along. Towards the beginning of the novel, whilst the world and magic system was being explained, I wasn’t too invested in the main characters of Kell and Lila; however, once the plot got rolling and these two were thrown into adventure together, I really grew to like them and the banter between them. I would have enjoyed finding out more about some of the secondary characters – the likes of the King and Queen in Red London, and perhaps more about the Danes siblings and their need for power – but this might be explained in the second and third book in the series.
The plot, once the foundation had been laid in the first 70 pages or so, moved forward at a very fast pace and kept me entertained. I was able to follow what was going on quickly and really enjoyed how fast paced the action was. There was a good balance of action and heartfelt moments, whilst a good amount of political intrigue added to the story. Overall, a quick and action packed read that entertained me fully for a good afternoon.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
I pondered over giving this book a 5 out of 5 stars, but eventually went against that decision. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed this book. It has a great premise and the world is fantastic; I really liked the main characters, especially Lila’s refreshing attitude, and the plot was super fun and fast paced. However, this genre is one that I’m still getting used to. As such, I find myself just not as excited as I thought I might be. I was caught up in the story, but find this might be one that gets overshadowed by other fantastic books as time passes – but only time will tell. I did really enjoy this book though, and I am curious as to how the story will continue, so will probably pick up the second in the series sometime soon. Something to mention though (because I often get annoyed at this if I’m unsure of a trilogy): this book has a nice enough conclusion that, should you not feel like chaining yourself to a trilogy, you could finish this book and feel satisfied. And with trilogies, you don’t always get that!
As always, these are my own opinions. Each to their own!
What do you think? Have you read this book – what were your thoughts? And is the second book worth a flick through? Let me know!