Friday, October 7, 2016

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: February 27, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Length: 384 pages
Format: paperback
Source: gifted

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London--dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George-- to Red London--where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire-- to White London--ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back-- and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now. 

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they'll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure. 

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive -- a feat trickier than they hoped. 

My Thoughts:
Kell is one of the last two Antari; people with magic in their blood that allows them to travel from one of the four London worlds to another. These worlds were shut off from one another because of a dark magic that destroyed the fourth London but being an Antari, Kell can magically circulate between them. But when Kell is given a dark artifact, he finds himself being chased between these realms. 

I was sucked into this story from page one. We are introduced to Kell and his fabulous coat and I was continually amazed by everything about this book. 

But. That. Coat.
I have to interrupt this review by stating that I have a bit of an obsession with coats. Sure, I live in a very hot state and have no need for them but I can't help but love them on characters. If a character is wearing a long, flowing coat - perhaps something a pirate or highwayman would wear - I will be in love. I call it "Coat Porn". It's a thing but get your mind out of the gutter, people! I just like looking at them!

Okay, back to the coat. It's multiple coats in one. That sounds ridiculous -and hot- but it's not; it's magic. A coat that fits different purposes in different worlds and can change simply by turning it inside out a few times. And Ta-da! I'm hooked.

If you want to go above and beyond in worldbuilding, make sure there's more than one world in your story. Four seems reasonable. And make sure that your characters can travel between them because why else would there be more than one. Seriously though, I loved how this world (or worlds) was set up. Every world is different, with different names for their countries, towns, and more, all the way down to the taverns. And yet, "London" is the same in all four worlds.
There's Grey London, which is basically our world, where there is no magic and everything is just kind of dull.
Then there's Kell's London, which he calls Red London because it's alive and thriving and full of magic that is practiced often. Plus it smells like flowers.
Next is White London, which is full of blood thirsty criminals and sick, sadistic twin rulers that like to torture people.
Lastly is Black London; the London that is basically dead because they abused magic, destroyed themselves, and then they were sealed off from the other worlds so the evil wouldn't spread.

Even if I knew nothing else about this book, I'd want to know what's going on in these four worlds. But then we have amazing characters!

Kell is quite a character even though we don't really learn a whole lot about him in this book. I couldn't help but fall in love with the idea of his character the same way I fell in love with that coat and the worldbuilding. It was inevitable because fantasy magic wraps me up like a warm blanket and I always root for the MC, no matter their flaws.

I really liked Kell but I honestly felt 'closer' to Lila. We get more of her inner workings. Who she is deep down. She felt more real and not just because she comes from a world that is closer to our own than any of the other Londons. She had dreams, aspirations, flaws, and a personality. I loved her. She's basically this story's anti-hero. She's reckless, stubborn, and kind of badass.

This was very plot driven and I loved every minute of it! I was never bored. I was always on the edge of my seat and waiting for the next surprise. Just about everything in this book is to the point and part of the bigger picture. That's something that really stuck with me while reading this because most books I read have a lot of pointless filler and dialogue that goes on and on. A Darker Shade of Magic was nearly perfect from beginning to end and I am so eager to start the next book!

My Rating: 5 stars

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