Author: V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Publishing
Publishing Date: February 24, 2015
The Why Behind the Read:
A Darker Shade of Magic has been on my TBR for who knows how long. I withheld myself from buying it for ages, though, because I’m a bargain hunter, and typically only purchase from outlet stores, or library sales. Basically, this book just never came across my path, until one day it ended up at my front door, courtesy of Jess (@certified_fangirl63), as a birthday gift! I started the book the same day because Jess had been hyping me up about it for a couple of weeks, as it is her favorite book. At this point, I’d already fallen in love with the idea of a Fantasy that spans four different worlds and is traveled through by a blood magician. Essentially, I have Jess to thank for radically impacting my reading world with this novel.
I think some of the key things that made this novel great was Schwab’s ability to create four distinguishable worlds, that in many ways were identical, and in many others, couldn’t be further apart. The detail work that was put into bringing each world to life was creative and ingenious, and I didn’t struggle in the least imagining them due to the wonderful images she painted for me. I also found myself ever grateful for her ability to include backstory throughout the novel, without making it feel as if she had written an entire novella within the novel to explain what had taken place. I never felt confused at any point, and her story left me with no plot holes.
Though the plot itself left me with no confusion, I am confused as to how there is a second and third book. ADSOM (A Darker Shade of Magic) was wrapped up so beautifully, I’m somewhat surprised it isn’t a standalone. That’s not to say that I’m not going to pick up book two as soon as I’m done writing this review, however. Considering it’s already 3am, we can pretty much rule out sleep for me tonight. My only hope is that the sequel is just as good, if not better than its predecessor.
Characters & Development:
Throughout this novel, I felt that Schwab did an incredible job bringing her characters to life, and allowing us to genuinely see growth and change in them. In other books I’ve read the author often times struggles with feeling as if the changes in their characters was evident enough, causing them to induce too much change, too quickly. Unlike those authors, Schwab leaves just a teasing taste of change, and that’s enough to keep me satisfied, without feeling as if the character at the beginning of the book, is an entirely different person by the end of the book.
Each character had unique traits that drew me into wanting to know them more. Kell is the first character we meet, so it’s only fitting to start with him. In the beginning of the novel he comes across as a “rogue, bad boy type,” but before long we get to peak at his kind heart, and at his woundedness. It gives us a look at his flawed attributes as a spoiled young man, but also insight into his heart of gold. This makes it much more satisfying when he’s forced to take a look at himself later in the book. Then we’ve got Rhy, and Rhy is the kind of guy who craves attention, no different than many a young Prince, I’d guess. He’s flirtatious and assumes everything is his for the taking, but soon life lessons will teach him otherwise.
Both Kell and Rhy are from Red London, but when we take a trip over to White London, we meet much crueler characters. Holland is reserved and to himself, bound to his duty and to the Danes. There’s not much I can really say about Holland without mentioning spoilers, so we’ll move along. Alongside Holland, we meet the rulers of White London, Athos, and Astrid Dane. Astrid is seductive and cunning, she is ruthless and pompous. Her personality reminds me very much of a Peacock. Athos Dane, similar to his sister is also ruthless, but he takes it much further because Athos Dane is a Sadist. He is power hungry, and happy to cut down anyone and anything in order to remain ruler of White London, alongside Astrid.
Lastly, in a world stricken of color, we meet Lila Bard, and Baron in Grey London. Lila is by far my favorite, so I’ll save her for last. Baron has a piece of my heart, as he is kind and watchful over Lila. Unlike anything she’s ever known, he is the closest thing to a Father she’s ever had, and though she constantly disrespects him, he continues to love her anyway. Lastly, we have Lila, and Lila reminds me so very much of a grittier version of Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Lila is prideful, insecure, paranoid, and a thief. She is starving for an adventure, for a one way ticket away from the only life she’s ever known, and it places her very near to my heart. She is ruthless, brilliant, and a survivor, and to me, that makes her the most beautiful character within the entire book.
My Relationship With The Characters:
While reading this novel I found myself experiencing different emotions with each character. With Kell I wanted him to value what he had, I wanted to see him grow as an individual and become grateful for what he had. With what little journey I had with Rhy, I wanted him to grow up, to be the young prince who would one day wear the crown, rather than being something like a partying frat boy. Moving along, the only thing that I felt towards the Danes was hatred, and I happily dreamt of their death from the moment I met them. Alongside those two, I felt a heavy mix of pity, and frustration towards Holland. There were things about him that I understood, and then things that I felt didn’t have to be as they were. Lastly, my entire time spent with Lila, I found myself admiring her. I admire her strength and audacity. I admire the fact that no person, thing, or even world, was going to hold her back. Full of fire and passion, Lila will make you want to start a rebellion, and go on an adventure.
In this novel of good vs. evil, of humanity vs. nature (nature being magic), and of an individual vs. society, I found I was constantly kept on my toes! Much like Kell felt the pull of his Antari magic, this book kept pulling me in for more. I rated this novel PG-13 because of the (at-times) graphic violence, and the periodic sexual tension used in the plot. This is one of the best books I have read in a while, and I’m glad to have stumbled into it, all thanks to a wonderfully well-read friend!
“Magic made things simple. Sometimes, Kell thought, it made things too simple.” – Kell
“Looking for trouble,” [Baron] would say, “You’re gonna look till you find it.” “Trouble is the looker,” [Lila] would answer, “It keeps looking till it finds you. Might as well find it first.” – Lila & Baron
“He knew above all that defiance was like a weed, something to be ripped out at the roots.” – Athos Dane
“A life worth having is a life worth taking.” – Lila Bard
“Hesitation is the death of advantage.” – Holland
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” – Lila Bard
“Love doesn’t keep us from freezing to death, Kell, or starving, or being knifed for the coins in our pocket. Love doesn’t buy us anything, so be glad for what you have and who you have because you may want for thing, but you need for nothing.” – Lila Bard
“Or perhaps I will go with you to the end of the world. After all, you’ve made me curious.” – Lila Bard
“The ones who think they’re ready always end up dead.” – Lila Bard