A Darker Shade of Magic (2015) is a fantasy book all about magic and set in a world where there is more than one London: Grey where magic has been forgotten, Red where magic thrives, White which involves people fighting to control magic but the magic withdraws, and Black London- a place that ceases to exist after magic took over and the world perished.
Kell is an Antari – a person who can travel into the different Londons and only one of two still remaining after the doors were shut between the worlds after magic took over and consumed Black London. But when a mysterious object falls into Kell’s possession, he is chased through the worlds for it, life suddenly taking a dramatic twist for the Antari.
This book is fast-paced and full of action as well as expressing a new and original take on magic (link on goodreads) and here are five reasons why you should consider picking up this book to read next:
We have all either read or seen Harry Potter, or at least heard of it so we know the score that when it comes to magic, J K knows how to rock it. So when a new book comes along that’s about magic, we’re probably a bit sceptical because we all know that Hogwarts is the place for magic isn’t it?
WRONG. V E Schwab certainly knows how to create a new and exciting magical world with a refreshing take on magic, that it is to be respected and cannot be controlled, lest it consume you or retreat away. She describes magic as being fluid, always existing and never being created or destroyed – like energy. The detailed description of magic grips you by the hand and throws you into a new world and into a new way of thinking about magic. Breath-taking and exhilarating, this book will cast a new light on magic and our attitudes towards it.
- The WRITING
Have I mentioned already that the descriptions in this book are otherworldly? V E Schwab has a beautiful way with words and knows exactly which ones to use to create an atmosphere and get that skin crawling with trepidation or heart pounding with excitement. Rarely does a book leave you craving more from an author and wishing you could see the world through their eyes, wondering what magic they have running through their veins to be able to construct such a treasure of a book.
This author does just that. Even if the premise for the book doesn’t grip you at first, as soon as you start reading you’ll soon be left wondering why you didn’t pick this book up sooner.
A Darker Shade of Magic has some wondrously though-up characters but Kell is by far the show of the story. An air of mystery surrounds Kell as we soon learn he has a patchy past – an enchantment to erase memories marked on his skin at the age of five and adopted by the King and Queen, Kell is a character we know all and nothing about.
The conflict seen within himself for wanting to please and serve the King but also feeling lost and unhappy with his life, you soon realise you have reserved a small place in your heart for this particular character. A constant battle to care for others and live his own life, Kell shocks with how far he is willing to go to save the ones he loves.
- The SUSPENSE and ACTION
The chapters are written in such a way that we could be reading about Kell in one, and then someone somewhere entirely different in the next, but they are linked. There are sort of title pages to different sections of the book, which are then split into chapters labelled by roman numerals. It means that you get a glimpse of what the next section of the book is about and it sometimes plays havoc with your emotions if it’s labelled with foreboding words – a tease for what happens next.
This way of formatting the book helps to build suspense but also gives a fast-paced action feel to the story – you’re never left feeling bored or just going through the motions of having to read a chapter in order to understand something later – every sentence adds to the feel of the setting of the story and thrills and excites every step of the way.
- The diversity of the CHARACTERS
You go from the adorable and easy-to-love Kell, to the malicious and black-hearted Dane twins who rule over White London by fear and corruption of their citizens. Astrid and Athos are deliciously evil – twins that rule side by side with a desire for ownership of everything. V E Schwab knows how to create wicked character, but also a brazen one like in Rhy; the brother to Kell, he is the complete opposite to him and delightful to read about with his forward remarks and amusing comebacks.
What this book does include is a strong-willed, lively character seen in Lila Bard – she lives her life by her own rules and is daring in her ambition of seeking out adventure. With no romance seen in this novel, it’s refreshing to have a male and female manage to fight against dark magic without ending up swooning after one another.
And of course, there’s Holland. This character is very up-and-down, one minute we’re feeling sympathy for him and his plight, the next we’re feeling distaste for him by his actions. He continues to surprise and shock throughout the story, showing his violent and sly nature in between brief periods of quietness in which we feel sorry for him and can’t help forgiving some of his behaviour.
So cleverly done, each character brings something different to the feel of the story and each one is just as important as the other in building this magical world and storyline.
And there you have it! If this doesn’t convince you to pick up ADSOM or add it to your TBR list, then I don’t know what will – V E Schwab is definitely an author that you will relish in discovering and more than worth the time in trying one of her books. With a superb plot and fascinating characters, this book reaches out and finds a place within your heart that it latches on to and you will find never wanting to let go.