Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Review: A Darker Shade Of Magic by V E Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic Book 1)

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
Title: A Darker Shade of (Perfection...) Magic.
Author: V. E. Schwab
Page Count: 398
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Rating: Perfect. 5 Stars. 5 billion stars. Every star in the galaxy.
Source: Borrowed from Annelise! (The one who will be soon redesigning this blog... ;) )
Synopsis: 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.

Review:  "Death comes for everyone. I'm not afraid of dying. But I am afraid of dying here. I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still"

How can I even begin to describe this book and its beauty and convince you all to read this while avoiding spoilers and actually trying to make sense? The answer is: Very very difficult to do. At least for me. But I will try, because Victoria Schwab deserves a well written review, although nothing can match the beauty of ADSOM.

First of all, I am angry at myself for not reading this sooner. It was great (as I will say a multitude of times during this gushing ahem I mean REVIEW) and as complex as the world was, I quickly grasped the concepts, and it clicked in my head.

Basically, Antari can travel through the London's. There is Black London, White London, Red London and Grey London and to travel between them, you have to go in that order. If you begin in Red, you can travel one way to Grey or one way to White. But in Grey, you can only go back to Red. Sounds super complicated, but it's easy to grasp.

So we begin our journey with Kell, one of two Antari still around. (that we know of at least... I have theories...) And he has this badass coat that has several sides and Victoria has a coat fetish, to put it plainly... and I loved every moment of it! ;) I loved his coat and learning about all of it's many sides and how he changed it based on where he was. It was great.

Kell is just great. He is witty, and compassionate, and he seems to have his interests in mind, but will still help others. Like Rhy, his brother. I love the dynamic between the two of them, it's endearing. Kell and his conversation with the Queen and King near the beginning was also really interesting. I feel it gave of us a good grasp of everyone in Red London.

Holland is a creepy Antari who lives in White London serving under the ruthless Dane twins, Astrid and Athos. Holland is intriguing as all hell, and vicious, and I loved seeing everything he did. His words stung, and they were very memorable to me. Everything about Holland oozed disturbing things. I really thought he was a strong character, as were all the characters.

Astrid and Athos are the most terrifying villains I have read, practically ever. And even though they were evil (and vicious, and scary and beautiful and cynical) I still rooted for them at times, because they were interesting. I loved them in this book, and the scene between them and Holland and the blood and omg. shudders It was gloriously horrifying (never thought I would say that it the same sentence)

Lila Bard, Captain Bard, Delilah Bard, her and her many names... I adore Lila with all of my heart and she is badass as all hell. She is fearless. I love her and her obsession with knives. She has a knife fetish as Schwab has a coat fetish. (I just love continually making this joke because I am pretty sure Victoria tweeted about it at some point) But anyways, Lila is full of sarcasm, wit, spunk, badassery wrapped up into this rugged-looking bow of strength and power. She is the epitome of deserving her accomplishments. I was so proud of everything she did, all the choices she made... I was ON BOARD. Lila's banter with Kell gave me immense joy and it reminded me of The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig and Kash & Nix... the banter is beautiful. I loved Kell and Lila more... but the idea is the same. I loved her power, and her drive to get things done. Her insistence that she was strong enough and her thieving was great. The scene that Kell and Lila met was phenomenally written and a great way to introduce their soon to be interactions. I also particularly loved Lila's first meeting with Rhy.

Rhy, my precious cinnamon roll. You have landed yourself among the greats of my precious cinnamon roll beauties. Under Jude and Wylan, you are coming in at number 3, my prince. I want him to be more present in AGOS. But I loved his protection-like style toward Kell... I loved every moment he was on the page, because I cared so much about his well being, and everybody's well being, even the characters that made me almost shit my pants.

I struggle to find the words that convey this book to it's potential. This book is one, if not, my favourite fantasy book ever, and one of my favourite books of all time. Victoria Schwab has already gone on to my favorite authors list because of this book. I needed one book to fall in love, and this one did it folks. I have wanted to read a Schwab book since I first heard about The Archived, and this one as well, I just forgot about it for a period of time.... but I do not say this lightly. This is such a phenomenally well-written fantasy novel with a strong female lead character and such wonderful other characters. My favourite female villain is included inside these pages.

The magic that is inside these pages is so reminiscent of other things, yet it feels so different. One of my favourite passages is when Kell describes the game board with the various elements, so someone can test their affinities for different magic. I LOVED that. It made the world feel so much more real to me. I also loved the startch contrasts between the different London's and this really added to the atmosphere of the novel.

Schwab's writing is breathtaking, and I loved her third person writing style. I usually have a difficult time getting into third person POV, but Schwab wrote it phenomenally. It was very active. And for me, venturing into this adult fantasy world was a big step, but it has opened my world to so many amazing things and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude in enough words.

Victoria Schwab has written a world I will never forget filled with a cast of characters that will ALWAYS live on in my heart, long, long after I turn the final page. I am enamored by the beauty of this story, and the way everything weaved together.

Schwab didn't milk any of this story to make it longer, or to meet deadlines. She wrote with passion that bled through the pages, by the gore that is included within this novel. This novel is dark. And I love dark novels. I am so excited to see how much darker it will get in Black London in A Gathering of Shadows. Which I want... now. It was just so fantastic. It felt almost phantasmagorical, the way everything flowed. I want to live in this world, but also, I don't. I am imagining now what it would feel like to live there.... In Grey London I would be bored, even though it mirrors our London, where I would love to visit and live... but in this story I wouldn't enjoy it. Red London seems the most well off, but also terrifying, but I would love to meet Kell and Rhy... so... White London would be ruthless and terrifying but I would have a lot of fun living there if I created an alter ego or something of the sort. Black London frightens me almost as much as it intrigues me. I neeeeeed to see it. I want to experience it and all it's dreary horrors.

I am so incredibly happy I read this book, and my life has been changed because of it. This book has sparked a writing bug in me, and I am so thankful. I love fantasy, and I love this book. Everybody needs to read this book, because it is fantastic in every way, shape, and form. Everybody from Grey to Black London will enjoy this book.

Be prepared to see this with the fantasy greats in years to come.

Very important: I aspire to write a book that is half as good as this novel. I love to write, and this book has made me want to write. Excuse me as I go fangirl as I wait to get A Gathering Of Shadows in my hands... and then I will write. And continue to write. Thank you, Victoria for inspiring me, I will never forget that.

Add it on:

Please purchase this book and its sequel... WHICH IS OUT FEBRUARY 23RD!! (aka super duper soon, tomorrow, so soon AHHH)

Parnassus Books (Victoria Schwab's bookstore!)

Barnes & Noble

The Book Depository


Cody @ Roecker Reviews

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