Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: 5 stars
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
You know that book that has been in your TBR pile forever, and you know you’ll enjoy it, but you just never seem to get around to reading it? That was A Darker Shade of Magic for me. There was nothing that stood out to keep me from picking up the book, but I was always distracted by a pretty cover or a new release, and just couldn’t seem to get around to picking this one up. I’m SO glad that I finally did. I’ve enjoyed other books by V.E. Schwab and this one was no different.
-a several sided coat that takes on multiple appearances, a magical stone with a “personality” of its own, travelling through different worlds
– unique magic system where the magic could be molded and manipulated in different ways
– interesting main characters that have great personalities and chemistry, plus lots of standout side characters – good and evil.
The narrative has alternating perspectives, which was a pleasant surprise. I’m usually a bit hesitant to start out a series if the MC is a male because sometimes I can find it hard to relate to them and to get into the story. Going into this, I thought that everything would be from Kell’s point of view, but we actually get to see things through Lila’s eyes as well. All of the characters stood out, whether they were good or evil, and each has a distinct personality of their own. I found myself wanting to get to know each of them better, to learn their backstories and see how the characters interacted with each other when they were introduced.
Kell refused to let it go. “Why do you really want to do this?”
“Because I’m a fool.”
“Because I can’t stay here,” she snapped, the smile gone from her face.
“Because I want to see the world, even if it’s not mine. And because I will save your life.”
I thought that the concept of a bunch of different Londons could potentially get confusing, but it never did, and I ended up really liking how all the different versions were presented. They each had a unique feel to them, and the author did a great job of conveying their differences and similarities through the descriptions. One of my favorite sections was Lila getting to see Red London for the first time; to Kel it’s just normal and what he’s used to seeing, but for Lila everything is enhanced in a way that hadn’t been explained to the reader until that point, so I felt like I was seeing Red London for the first time again when she crossed over.
“The world sits in balance,” said Kell, “humanity in one hand, magic in the other. The two exist in every living thing, and in a perfect world, they maintain a kind of harmony, neither exceeding the other. But most worlds are not perfect.”
I loved the way that magic works in this world; it wasn’t just there to be used, it could be molded and manipulated, and there was more than one type. Some magic could be talked to and convinced, while other magic was dark and could take on a mind of its own. There was more than one villain in this story, and I found the way the evil spread to be pretty frightening. There was a constant tension to the story that kept things interesting, but it wasn’t overwhelming and I was able to enjoy the banter between Kell and Lila and the misadventures they got themselves into along the way. The story had just enough surprises to keep me on my toes and to not become predictable, but the author didn’t make things too complicated or try too hard. There were times when I had no idea what was going to happen, and I can’t wait to start on the second book in the series!