Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic {by V.E. Schwab}

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic, #1
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: finished copy from 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.
There are no words. You know those books that you love so much, that there really aren't words to describe how much you love it? You just want to throw it at everyone you know. It's been a long time since I've read a book like that, but this was one of them. I was only halfway through when I ordered Vicious, as well as the UK edition of ADSOM. And I have never ordered the UK edition for a book before, much less for one I already owned. So that is seriously the highest praise. This was the first book I've read by Schwab (I can feel the glares) but it definitely won't be the last.

Kell is a Traveler, one of only two existing. He can travel between the parallel universes, between the Londons--Gray, Red, White. He legally is only allowed to bring letters from the monarchs between worlds, but illegally he smuggles items for people who want a taste of magic. Lila lives in Grey London, the one that is boring, plain, and magic-less. She is an aspiring pirate, although at the moment, she is just a, well, criminal. The two cross paths when Lila steals something quite dangerous from Kell, and their paths are tied from then on.

The world-building in this one was phenomenal. To create, in a sense, not only one London, but THREE. Each was done so well, in such detail, that distinguished each one from the other. The settings were described so detailed that I could see the palaces in my mind, the streets, the taverns. Each was unique, and I could tell how each one was different from the other, what made them stand out.

Some might say the story starts out slow, but Schwab needs time to build the world. Between the world-building, and the magic-building, you will be entranced by this crazy awesome world that Schwab has created. My biggest issue with fantasy novels is that I usually get confused, on what's going on, or how things work. But Schwab takes time to set up the magic and the systems of this world, and I wasn't confused at all.

Of course, we also have our characters. Kell is one of my favorite characters of all time now. He was a complex character. He's a prince, sort of, yet still has this urge to smuggle artifacts, even though he knows it's illegal and could get into serious trouble. I loved the interactions between him and Rhys, and the different sides of him that were shown. And I loved Lila. Strong, sassy, independent. Both of these characters fall into some gray areas, but I love how that was explored, and how that made way for some serious character development. I also loved how well-written the side characters were, especially Rhy. But even the side characters were written with such depth and precision, that you could really understand where they were coming from, or their purpose in the story.

Above all, this was just a really well-written book. I usually don't tab quotes in books, but there were so many I had to mark in this one, and more I'm sure I'll mark every time I reread it. If you haven't seen the hype for this one, or have seen it and it makes you wary, I'll just let you know that this book is worth every bit of it. I already want to reread it (and probably will when my UK copy gets here) and cannot wait for the sequel.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

V.E. Schwab

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  1. I read the sampler and loved it and I'm quite excited to finally get to read the full book, because I loved the worldbuilding and the characters!
    Great review!

  2. Hiiii, new subscriber! :3

    I've never read anything by V.E. Schwab! Would this be a good start for me? *-*

    Ps. If you'd like to, stop by my blog and say hi <3

    Frannie @ In clouds of pages