Monday, March 30, 2015

5 Star Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author| V.E. Schwab
Edition| American Hardcover
Genre| Fantasy
Publisher| Tor
Rating| 5 Stars
Related Posts| WoW
This book seems to be the book of the moment right now, something it totally deserves.  I don't think it'll peter out after five seconds of fame, either.  This one strikes me as a story that will last for a while and, while reading, brought to mind classics such as Narnia and Stardust.  It had that same kind of fairy tale feel and, while I'm no Schwab expert, I believe this may be hailed as one of her greatest works.  Enough with the praise.  I'm sure you've seen many other wonderful reviews of this one.

For those who are unaware, ADSoM follows to protagonists- Kell and Lila.  Kell is from Red London, that which has a thriving magic system, and Lila is from Gray, where no magic exists.  Kell accidentally takes something from another London into Gray London, where the two cross paths.  From there forward they work as partners- one the adopted son of a king, the other a cross-dressing pirate.

I must admit, I almost gave it four stars for some minor flaws.  But I was being harsh.  I've had a bad track record with books when they get a ton of hype.  But really, the book crept into my dreams and showed me what good writing looked like.

The characters are so cool.  I loved both of them (though I'm rather more fond of Kell for some book crush reasons...).  Besides Kell and Lila, the side characters were intriguing.  We didn't get to know them as well as our main characters, but I do feel like they were each important and had their own story.  I do wish that they could be expanded more, but I feel that in the sequel they will be.  I think several of these characters were really teases of what was to come, so I'd rather not spoil my fun before book two comes out.

The pace was a little slow for my taste.  In the beginning and most of the middle and end I couldn't stop turning pages.  But there's quite a bit of time spent in Gray London (our world) and I wanted more of the other worlds.  We did get that eventually, but I had hoped to arrive sooner to embrace more of these strange places.  Of the other two worlds, Red and White London, I must say they were brilliant.  I wasn't sure if Schwab could pull off fantasy like this, but she ran with it and shone.  The languages of the worlds really made me happiest.  I felt like they were real and something I would love to learn for myself.

The magic system was interesting and deep, if not particularly unique.  There are those who can work with elements (something I see often) and then those who were travelers- Antari.  Antari were cool and much more interesting than the other forms of magic.  The magic system wasn't confusing either.  It seems like it would be hard to grasp when you first start the book, but it's explained well.

There wasn't very much humor in this book and I thought that was a shame.  I did find a few instances that I felt bordered on satire, but didn't quite make the mark.  I didn't need laughter from it, but that sort of accent on scenes might have helped the pace.

Regardless, I recommend this one with all my heart.  Everyone should read it, even those not big into fantasy.  It's a great book and you'll fall in love with the writing if nothing else.

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