Saturday, October 24, 2015

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Author: V.E. Schwab
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Sci - Fi, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 24, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars

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.

I had heard nothing but good things about V. E. Schwab and how her writing was amazing, and I, of course,  wanted to read her books. So, naturally, when I heard she was writing a book that has to do with parallel universes-parallel Londons nonetheless--I was dying to read it. When I heard Ms. Schwab herself say "I was writing a book about cross-dressing thieves and magical men in fabulous coats," I knew that this would be the first book she wrote that I would read--and love.
And sure enough, I did love it!

Now before I turn into a puddle of emotions and fangirl-ing, let's begin with the characters.

Kell: Kell is a traveler, one of the last ones of his kind, which means that he can travel between the parallel universes connected by London. He is a very unique main character, and I for one really enjoyed reading about him. Kell, while being a very likeable main character, also gives you the feeling that there's something... wild, untamed, even dark inside him. It's one of the things that makes him such a compelling character.

While he does live in the palace with the royal family in Red London (they adopted him, for reasons explained in the book), he has a... rebellious streak, if you will, and trades objects from one London to the next, despite the fact that it's illegal.
And it gets him into a world of trouble.

Lila: Lila is a unique lead female character, and I applaud Ms. Schwab for that! Lila is headstrong, stubborn, a total tomboy, a wannabe pirate and... a pickpocket. She is saving this stolen (worked for?) money to buy a ship and sail the world. She wants to be free. Lila was the kind of character that doesn't take any crap. I loved it. For example, at one point she is on a ship and a man... comes onto her, and she doesn't cower or cry, no, she sets the whole bloody ship on fire and escapes. While I did love Lila, she wasn't my favorite character. That award goes to:

Rhy: Great. My favorite character is, once again, a side character. Dangit.

Anyways, Rhy is Kell's adopted brother, who also happens to be the complete opposite of him. He is a partier, for lack of a better word. He's terrible at magic, sassy, and has a great sense of humor. I love Rhy. Because, despite all of that, he is a very caring, compassionate character. He loves Kell, so much. He'd do anything for him, and vice versa. Kell and Rhy's relationship was a beautiful thing to read about, really.

Writing/Plot: Ms. Schwab's writing is beautiful. It's blunt, straight and to the point, but at the same time creates a perfect picture of what's going on. She developed the world so well and breathed life into her characters through her words. The only complaint I have for this book is very minor, and it's that I wish that the relationship between Kell and his adopted family had been shown more. It was portrayed well, but due to... events in the book you didn't see much of it.

I highly recommend if you're in the mood for a great  Fantasy / Sci - Fi book that's just all around wonderful. Or, of course if you are a fan of: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, A Court of Thorns and Roses, or Ruby Red.

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