Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V E Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Goodreads Synopsis: Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
Buddy Read Q&A with Jasmine @howusefulitis
I’m fortunate enough to have had the chance to buddy read with Jasmine over @howusefulitis and I really can’t thank her enough for agreeing to do this with me. Whenever I finish reading a book, or when I’m in the process of reading one, I always wish that I could talk about it to someone and Jasmine was the perfect reading buddy. Not only did she listen to me, but she gave me new perspectives along the whole journey that made me understand the book better. She was also incredibly patient with my reading pace and didn’t push me when I struggled to get through the beginning. Apart from the buddy reading process, she gave me so much advice on book blogging and provided me with so many links and resources for which I’m extremely grateful. Again, thank you so much, Jasmine, it really couldn’t have been better without you.
Jasmine’s questions and our answers:
1. Which London would you like in live in?
Jasmine: I would like to live in Red London. I like flower smells and to be able to use magic.
Namitha: I would like to live in Red London – it seems like an ideal world to live in with all the magic and flowery scents and beautiful sights.
2. What do you like most about this book?
Jasmine: I love the banter between Kell and Lila.
Namitha: Blood magic and Antari magic is something that I found really intriguing and unique. I also enjoyed the relationship between Kell and Lila.
3. What do you think of the villians?
Jasmine: The villains have cool powers. I like the power to take over the body of another person.
Namitha: I thoughts the villains of the novel brought villainy to a whole new level. The powers that they possessed and their wicked thinking was intense and different from what I’d seen before.
My questions and our answers:
1. If you had to describe this book in three words, what would they be?
Jasmine: Mystery, intense and kickass.
Namitha: Captivating, awing and gorgeous.
2. Which character would you choose to be between Kell and Lila and why?
Jasmine: I would choose Lila. Despite her rough situation, she has a positive attitude. She doesn’t give in to being weak and scared. She puts forth a strong image and takes care of herself. The ambition to wanting something more and doing something to obtain it shows her drive to succeed. I’m curious to find out what she discovers.
Namitha: I would choose to be Kell because I would like to travel between worlds and live in Red London. Although I like Lila better, I don’t think I would have had the strength, power and courage to survive in her skin.
3. What do you think about blood magic?
Jasmine: I’m not going to lie, I cringe every time it’s being used.
Namitha: I thought blood magic was a cool and different concept. It does seem painful to cut ourselves every time we need the magic to work though.
Review: I started reading A Darker Shade of Magic on 23/4/17 and finished it on 9/5/17. The fact that I took so long to read this book is not related to how I felt about it. I loved A Darker Shade of Magic and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I found the world, or I might say worlds, to be intriguing and gripping. After reading Caraval, I started paying more attention to YA fantasy which led me to check out A Darker Shade of Magic. The Goodreads synopsis blew my mind and I immediately ordered this book the next day. I found the concept of parallel universes something new and original in the fantasy genre since you would normally expect to see more of it in sci-fi. This novel also seemed to have a whole new reimagining of magic, a darker shade of it, and I was eager to explore it.
The beginning was definitely very inviting. Once I started reading the first chapter, I found myself sucked into the novel. The story was told in the third person and although I generally prefer the first person to it, I found that it suited its mystifying atmosphere. The writing was gruesome and gorgeous. The balance between descriptions and dialogue was something that had to be appreciated. The author knew exactly where to include descriptions and where to tone it down so that the story could progress. I found that an important point to mention because I have a feeling that fantasy novel authors can sometimes bombard the story with endless and wordy descriptions.
I was really into the first few chapters of the novel and I found myself reading at my usual pace. However, after reading a few more chapters, I began to find it a little difficult to continue. I had a few issues with the plot and the world building. I felt the beginning of the novel to be slow and the world building was sometimes exhausting to read. I do know that it’s a very complex concept and it takes some time and effort to understand the different worlds and their magic systems. I also agree that all the information present was relevant in understanding the story. Nevertheless, I would have enjoyed it more of the world building was simultaneous to the plot of the story. There were just chunks of information and like Jasmine once said to me while we were corresponding, ‘to many answers than questions’. It was only when I got through this phase that I could thoroughly enjoy the novel.
(SPOILER ALERT: A few spoilers ahead)
As the story unfolds, we are introduced to Kell, a rare magician and a personal ambassador to the king of Red London. His job is to deliver letters or any other form of correspondence between the royals of the different Londons. He also illegally smuggles items between these worlds which is what gets him into trouble. Kell is bold and would do anything to protect his kingdom and mostly Prince Rhy, whom he considers a loving brother, but at the same time, he is also afraid. He is unsure of himself because he doesn’t know his past. He finds himself being treated like a possession rather than family. He isn’t the most confident at all times, but his dedication to Rhy is what drives him to take risky decisions. Lila, on the other hand, is a total badass. She is the wanted thief in Grey London and aspires to have her own ship and travel the seas like a pirate. She is so sure of herself, knows exactly what she wants from her life and isn’t scared of death (unlike Kell) and ‘would rather die on an adventure than standing still’. Although they have contrasting personalities, they still have one thing in common. They are both passionate. Their passion, in Kell’s case towards Rhy and in Lila’s case towards adventure, binds them together. We also see Kell and Lila grow as characters while they fight the evil and dark forces together. Kell fights Vitari to save himself and Lila travels with Kell to White London to accompany him and not for the sake of adventure.
Overall, I really enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic. It was dark, bloody, gruesome, grim, evil and mysterious and different from the fairytale-ish visions of magic we have all seen before. I enjoyed the writing, the worlds, the characters and the plot and so I rate it 4/5 stars. I would have given it a 5/5 if the beginning wasn’t slow, nonetheless, it’s a book I highly recommend and you should definitely give it a try!
Click here to read Jasmine’s review
About the author: Victoria “V.E” Schwab is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. She also suffers from a wicked case of wanderlust, made worse by the fact that wandering is a good way to stir up stories. When she’s not haunting Paris streets or trudging up English hillsides, she’s usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up monsters. She is the author of several books for teens, including The Near Witch, about a village where the children begin to disappear, and The Archived series, about a library of the dead. Her first book for adults, Vicious, was named a Best Book of 2013 by both Publisher’s Weekly and Amazon.(Borrowed from the paperback copy of A Darker Shade of Magic published by Titan Books)
Thanks for reading!