Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Library
Author Links: Goodreads | Website
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.

There was just something about this one that kept it from totally rocking, and I can't quite put my finger on what it was. It was good, just not (for me) great.
Kinda dry maybe? Or I just didn't totally connect with the characters? Not sure.

But it's still one of those books that I'm glad I read, and I'm actually really looking forward to reading more about this world/worlds that Schwab created. 
And I seriously mean that! There's something cool about this setting and these characters that makes me want to see what's going to happen next. I kind of feel like maybe the first book was just a set-up, and now that the world building is done, this series (trilogy?) is gonna take off!

Because that happens, right? Book one is sorta dry and crunchy, and then book two rocks!
*nods head*
Yes. I'm feeling confident about that prediction for some reason. I loved Vicious, I loved the world that she created in this one...totally confident.

Anyway. My point is that I can see why so many of my friends loved this, and I don't want anyone to mistake a 3.5 rating as something bad.
I don't understand why anyone would think that to start with, but...there's always one.
*eyeballs crowd*
So the gist of the story is that this wizardish (Traveler) character named Kell is one of the 2 people alive who has the ability to move between worlds. Londons, to be exact. 
There are 4 different alternate worlds out there, and the only thing they have in common is that London is a city in each of them. 
Grey London = Us 
There's no magic left in our world.
Red London = Kell
His world has a perfect balance with magic, and it's a pretty nice place to live.
White London = Dangerous 
Their world has squeezed magic so hard that it's retreating from them. It's filled with desperate people willing to do bad shit for power.
Black London = Dead
Something happened and they were overtaken by evil magic, sealed off from the other worlds, and now exists only as a cautionary tale.
The point? Magic is real!

Without spoiling anything, he gets robbed by a scrappy thief from our Grey London, and the two form a strange friendship/partnership. It's sweet without being romantic...YET. And that's a real selling point for me. It's not that I don't lovelovelove romance in my books, but as I get older/more crotchety, I find myself seriously digging the Slow Burn storylines better than the instant attraction stuff. I get the appeal, but it just makes me scoff at this point in my life. When I read about a couple who seem to fly into each other's arms in a fit of passion, all while declaring their undying love for each other? Instead of oohing and cooing like a normal person...
This! This is what I see!

Ok, besides a non-awkward romance, this has a few other cool things going for it, as well.
1) Cool family dynamics! Kell's part of a magical Royal Family. Well, sorta, but not really. It's...complicated.

2) Delilah (possibly) has a secret origin! Is there more to her than meets the eye? *wink, wink*
 {insert spoilery inside joke here}
Still, even without anything extra, she's a tough little cookie.

3) The worlds themselves are just plain interesting. I think Schwab did a good job describing the different Londons, because all of them felt very real and well thought out. But I've always had a thing for alternate versions of our world stacked on top of each other, so this was right up my ally to begin with! And how cool would it be to have the ability to slide in and out of each of those?!

Ok, so even if it didn't really satisfy me as much as I had hoped, I'm all in for the next book!


Talk Supe said...

OMG, Anne, the gif just killed it! Hahahaha! OMG! I have to go back to the top to read the review. Sorry it felt lacking in some way, i hate it when that happens where we can't identify the problem.

Oana Berneantu said...

Omg hahahahah I love your review!

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