Books, YA Fiction

A Darker Shade Of Magic, by V.E Schwab


“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

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.

Hi peeps. Let me start out by apologizing for the lack of activity on Musings And Books. Aliza has been doing her best by reviewing and updating, but I obviously have completely omitted working on the blog since last month. Since school has started, I’ve been loaded with homework and schedules. I know that’s an everyday excuse, but it’s the truth. I clearly haven’t learned to deal with it as well as Liz has, but I’ll try harder. I’ve been feeling bad that I haven’t read much and I want to change that.

Let’s get on to the review, shall we?

When I first read the summary of this book, I had to pick it up. Cross-dressing theives? Elemental magic? Parallel Londons? Yes, please! I completely dropped everything and downloaded this book, because I needed something good to read at the moment. I’ll admit that when I started this book, I wasn’t feeling it as much as I wanted to, but let me tell you something, guys. This book went 0 to 100. Real quick.

The world-building is absolutely beautiful, intricate, and existant. Everything is perfectly explained in the right parts of the book, not diverting away from the actual story. The different dimenshions are clearly written, and I love how the magic is actually explained. So many stories nowadays explain something happens because “magic” and they actually never define the spells or whatever. Each London has their own tongue and it’s own traditions. It’s quite easy to imagine and differeentiate because the explanations were done so well.

The action scenes were crazy! It’s been such a long time since I’ve read a fighting scene that didn’t bore me, since most of them consist of description in long paragraphs. ADSOM did the same thing, but the scenes were written so well, it never felt like I was reading long paragraphs. The writing is wonderful as well, and I don’t know what it is about British authors, because their writing is so simplistic yet sophisticated at the same time. It’s a talent, really.

Since this is a more plot focused book, there wasn’t much emphasis on the characters, but everything balanced out nicely. I think this is one of the rare books in which I have… feelings for the characters. It’s almost like I can spiritually connect with them. The element that makes these characters special is the amount of darkness and innocence invloved in them at the same time. Most authors tend to not take such a risk, but I’m really glad that Schwab did this, because it gave the characters so much more complexity. Kell is one of my favorite characters, I loved him ever since the beginning. He has the badass, cold, and strong side of him, but at the same time, he’s flawed, scared, and an extremely loyal to the point of destruction. The character development is strong with this one.

I didn’t really like Lila at first. I thought Schwab was using the same old “tough girl” formula with her, and because of that I found her to be a little cliched. Although, Lila’s character development goes miles beyond her tough girl image, and she eventually grew on me. She’s smart, independent, takes crap from nobody, but at the same time, she’s extremely vulnerable. I hope we see more of her past in the next book.

All the minor characters were brilliant. Rhy Maresh, the prince of Red London was easily one of my favorite characters. We are introduced to him as the sweet-talking, flirtatious prince, but we eventually come to see some immense development with him (especially toward the end). He wasn’t shown too much in the book, but he definetely is one to remember. Holland, the villians’ playtoy, is way more complicated and crazy than you think, and the villians, The Dane Twins, take insane to a whole new level.

I knew Kell and Lila would make an incredible pair from the start, and they did not dissapoint. They brought out the best and worst of each other, and they were extremely entertaining with their clever comebacks and banter. Their relationship progressed quite nicely, and it reminds me of Penryn and Raffe’s (from Angelfall) relationship, especially towards the end of the book.

Overall, words can’t explain how much I loved this book. If you peeps are looking for an quirky and intense adventure, this is the book for you. Actually, scratch that, if you guys are looking for any book to read in the near future, this is the book for you. Seriously, read it now.