Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Published February 24th 2015 by Tor Books

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.
A Darker Shade of Magic is a book that already has a ridiculous amount of hype, which is kind of crazy since the book only came out a few months ago.  Everyone seems to have loved this book and well, if you came to my blog looking for the black sheep review, I'm sorry but you're out of luck.  I adored this book just as much as everyone else!  I was swept away by it's alternate Londons, each more wondrous than the last. I fell in love with it's characters, and found myself captivated by the heroes and villains alike. The story was fresh, exciting and beyond imaginative. And the magic? Well, the magic was unlike anything I've encountered before. And being an avid fantasy reader, that is saying something.  All I know is that I need more. Even more than the two expected sequels, I'm talking about needing a whole mess of sequels. Yup, this is a world I could spend all my time exploring.

Admittedly, A Darker Shade of Magic felt a little confusing to me at first.  All the alternate Londons were described in such an offhand way by our main character Kell, that I was worried I'd never get them sorted.  Have no fear though, because things fall into place soon enough - and that's where the amazing stuff kicks in.  See, as one of the last travelers, Kell's ease in describing all of the alternate Londons makes sense, since he's one of the only people who can travel between worlds.  As soon as the reader catches on to what makes each London unique, all you have to do then is strap yourself in and enjoy the ride!  At the start of the book, Kell already makes his way through Grey London, Red London and White London, so the reader gets to experience all of them first hand, along with him.  Then it becomes easier to see what sets each world apart, which one feels the most familiar, which one you'd give anything to visit, and which one scares the living daylights out of you.

As the titular character, Kell is exactly what I look for in a hero, because he's not looking to be a hero.  He's content to go about his royal duties delivering correspondences between Londons, and smuggling the occasion item from one world to the next for collectors and whatnot.  Basically, he's a good guy who like to play by his own rules *swoon*  But, when his antics get him in a big mess of trouble, he never falters, not for one second.  He has a strong moral compass and he knows that if he got himself into this mess, he's the one who must fix it, whatever the cost.  Luckily for him, Lila shows up just around that time - to rob him - but then that she sticks around to help him out of one tight spot, and then another, until they're as thick as thieves -pardon my pun.  Lila is an interesting character in her own right.  When we meet her, it's a little hard to connect with her, mostly because she's probably spent her entire life putting up a front to scare people off.  As the story moves forward though, she proves herself time after time and it didn't take long for me to warm up to her.  She's got a smart mouth, a fiery spirit and the way she and Kell play off one another is a whole lot of fun.

Plot-wise, A Darker Shade of Magic delivers, and then some.  It starts off almost unassumingly but then before you know it, it's crossed over into epic and you find yourself hopelessly sucked in and compulsively turning the pages until the very end. It was like one second, I was enjoying this pretty cool book and in the blink of an eye, I was devouring it like there was no tomorrow.  It was kind of crazy. The progression of the story happens naturally and effortlessly thanks to V.E. Schwab's insane prowess as a writer and by then end, you won't know what hit you!

Between the action, the magic, the character-development, the plot and the lighter moments, A Darker Shade of Magic is a story that captures your soul and leaves you begging for more. Highly recommended for fans of adult and young-adult fantasy! You all need to read this book.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

26 comments:

  1. I found your review on the Starships blog - I just added the review of A Darker Shade of Magic myself.
    I agree, this is one great book! I loved both Kell and Lila - but you're right, Lila is a bit difficult to love at first. But perhaps this is why I grew to love her so much more by the end.
    Schwab is such an amazing writer, I'd read anything she writes :)

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    1. Oh awesome! I'll head on over to your review in a sec.
      It's amazing isn't it - it's like one minute it was an averagely awesome read and then the next, it had crossed over to epically awesome XD It was magical. And I agree, even though it took me a bit to warm up to Lila, I ended up LOVING her soon enough. This is only my second read by Schwab, but ALL her other works are on my tbr shelf! Thanks for stopping by Kaja^^

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  2. No black sheep review, noooo, you want to make me cry ?!! *kidding*
    I'd never heard about that book but now I'm dying to read it, well done ;)

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    1. hahahaha, nope sorry! #notsorry
      Oh my, well I'm thrilled to have brought it to your attention. My work here is done ;)

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  3. I've tried reading this novel, but I can't really get into it, I think it's mainly because it has a lot of fantasy that I'm not used to - I feel like a black sheep, hopefully I can enjoy this much as you have, I do want to give it another try - lovely review<3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. Well, if it helps, I am a HUGE fantasy fan, and even I struggled a bit at first because I felt confused and I was worried that the feeling wouldn't go away. Luckily, it all made sense soon enough. Maybe if you can make it past that bump, it'll win you over too! I hope you do give it another try and that you'll end up loving it :D Thank you^^ xx

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  4. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I really loved this one. It took me a bit to warm to Lila's character, just because she felt a bit samey, but I loved them both in the end. I didn't realize there were sequels slated. Hurrah!

    C.J.
    Sarcasm & Lemons

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    1. Awesome :D Yeah, honestly it felt like we weren't really supposed to like her right at the start, but I loved her by the end for sure - and of course, Kell ♥ Yes, there's two slated sequels but tbh it doesn't sound like enought XD

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  5. I seriously can't wait to read this one! I'm so excited you gave it five stars. Soon, soon this will be mine, I plan to pick up the audiobook at the end of the month when it comes out. Thanks for the review!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Yay! Oooh the audiobook version, I'm curious what it'll be like, I'm already excited for your review to go up haha! Thanks Mogsy^^

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  6. I've also heard so much about this book and know I need to pick it up soon, your review just makes me want to read it so much more. I can tell I am going to enjoy it, especially with the setting and characters. I really liked her other books so this should be no different. Nice review :)

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    1. hahaha I love reading that^^ If you already loved Schwab, I'm sure you'll love this one too, it was a real treat :D I already can't wait for the sequel *sigh* and now the loooong wait begins... Thanks doll xx

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  7. Fantastic review! I loved this book too, but I haven't gotten around to reviewing it yet. I loved the world and Kell and his coats and Lila and her badass boots and just EVERYTHING. You're right, I could read dozens of books set in this world and still find things to be amazed about :)

    - Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider silk

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    1. Thanks lady^^ I'll definitely be looking out for your review, I need to gush some more LOL Kell and his coats were amazing and so was Lila the pirate ;) There's a definite NEED for more than 2 sequels, I'll tell you that much!

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  8. I've been seeing this everywhere, and I'm so happy that you loved it, Micheline! Since it's London, of course I'm going to have to read it, but now that you've 5 starred it, I'm REALLY going to have to get my hands on it soon! I haven't read anything by Victoria Schwab yet, but it sounds like this is the perfect place to start. :D

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    1. YES, the London setting was a HUGE draw for me as well, of course ;) Gah! I hope you can get your hands on it soon, I'm already looking forward to chatting about it with you :D Oh and I've only read Vicious by her other than this one^^ but ALL of her other books are on my tbr shelf since!

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  9. Ohhh yeah!! Now as much as it excites me to read everyone's reviews where they rave about this one, there's something even more exciting about reading a review from someone I know to be an avid fantasy fan - and a trustworthy one at that :D Because I know I can be quite picky when it comes to fantasy and I'm always looking for something NEW that will stand out from the pack - seems like this one will do the trick. Can't wait to read this!!

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    1. hahaha I completely know what you mean Aylee^^ As much as fantasy is my favorite genre, I can be really picky about it too - I wasn't sure at first how this one was going to go and if it was going to live up to all the hype, but then all of a sudden, it went from great to AWESOME :D I can't wait to hear how you make out with it!!

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  10. Everyone raves about this book (and this author), but for some reason I just can't bring myself to be excited about it - and I can't figure out why. Have you ever had this happen? I think I need to pick it up anyway!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. That has absolutely happened to me Nicole - sometimes the hype throws me right off...and then a few months or a year after the hype has died down, I see the book again and wonder WHY I haven't read it yet?! When I do I usually kick myself for not picking it up sooner though LOL! I hope you do end up picking this one up :)

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  11. "Everyone seems to have loved this book and well, if you came to my blog looking for the black sheep review, I'm sorry but you're out of luck." Lol! Yep, I haven't heard anything negative about this one, which is why I put it in my TBR pile. Now to just get the time to read it ...

    Have you read any of Schwab's other books, Micheline? I've read The Near Witch and loved that one.

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    1. hahahaha me either, it's kind of crazy how positive the buzz is for this one! I hope you do find time to read it soon, I'm eager to see how you'll make out with it...

      I've only read one other book by her: Vicious, and I was blown away by that one too! I still need to read The Archived and The Near Witch but both are on my tbr shelf :D Glad to see you loved that one too^^

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  12. Five stars, eh? This is on my TBR, so I didn't read your whole review - I'm so afraid to be spoiled I just don't dare to, even if I know you don't usually include any in your reviews, Micheline.
    I have to say I'm happy you loved it so much, though. I need to find the time to read it very soon!
    Have a fantastic Friday.

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Totally understandable Lexxie, sometimes I don't even read reviews for books I'm reading soon until after - sometimes you just don't want to know ANYTHING about the plot that might be considered spoiler-ish. Though your right, I try not to put any (potential) spoilers in my reviews ;)

      I hope you get a chance to read it soon and that you love it as much as I did^^ Happy weekend love xx

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  13. I TOTALLY HAVE TO KEEP READING ON YOUR RECOMMENDATION! I remember picking this up a little before publication hell bent on finishing it on time. But it was totally the wrong period in my life to be reading a fantasy (do you get that as well?) Point is, I never finished it. BUT I loved it. I love Schwab's writing. It just wasn't the time. BUT I'm definitely going to re-pick it up sooner than later! I love the fact that Kell doesn't have a the hero syndrome which is something that I SEARCH FOR IN A BOOK! :D Fabulous review, Micheline!<3

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    1. YES YOU DO JESS! But yeah, I totally get that sometimes it's just not the right time for a certain book. You did the right thing in putting it down until you're ready for it's AWESOME. Which I hope is soon by the way because I'd love to read your thoughts on it and GUSH WITH YOU :D Thanks Jess! ♥

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