Sunday, May 15, 2016

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

Goodreads Description: Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

My Review: Normally when I sit down to write a review, I have a list of criticisms that I have collected through reading. Even when I supremely enjoy a book, I still have things to say about the pacing and tension, characters and their development, plot, and so on. I almost have a mental checklist that I go through when reading any book.

Victoria Schwab's books blow all that out of the water, and A Darker Shade of Magic was no exception. In fact, it far exceeded some of her previous novels in the sense that every part of the story-- tension, character development, relationships, everything-- fit together like a perfect puzzle, so seamlessly that you can barely FIND the seams.

ADSOM is not my favorite of her books, which comes down simply to personal preference, but it is probably one of the best executed novels yet. It has rendered me pretty much speechless. I can't find words for this other than 'wow,' which almost irritates me. It means Victoria Schwab has taken that next step into crafting novels, truly mastering the art of storytelling, which makes my job as a reviewer a hell of a lot harder, but my experience as a reader so much richer. I could not help but get swept away by the story every time I opened the pages. The truly amazing part was what brought me back when I had to put it down wasn't the story's tension, but the story itself. Yes, there was the perfect amount of tension to accent what was going on, but what kept bringing me back was just a pure love of the story on its own. Kell and Lila could have been picking daisies and going grocery shopping and it would still have me desperate to have more.

If you love magic, if you love adventure, if you love a damn good story, you've got to read this. It's not even a book I feel I have to scream about from rooftops because the book does that all its own. This book envelops you as completely as the Black London stone does to Kell. It's rich, intoxicating, and something incredibly special-- luckily for us, this book isn't about to turn our veins black. Then again, knowing Schwab...

TL;DR: 5/5 stars. Just... speechless.

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