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A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab - Review

March 7, 2017




My rating: 5 of 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased ebook

Publication Date: February, 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Point of View: 3rd Person
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure






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Five stars. Are you really surprised?


I confess, I AM a little surprised. Most of the time, the hugely hyped books I see around the bookish world just don't end up being my cup of tea. Sarah J. Maas has yet to entrance me. Leigh Bardugo wasn't a hit (though I haven't read "Six of Crows" yet, so we'll see!). V.E. Schwab is, at least in my little corner of Goodreads, easily as popular as both those other two powerhouses, so I was more than a little leery of giving her work a try. I don't LIKE being disappointed by series that other folks are loving!


Well, my only regret is that I didn't give it a try much, much sooner.




Pretty much EVERYTHING about this book was a love for me. Right away, I appreciated the writing. The opening is a slow-burn, no doubt about it. But it was just the right kind of slow burn that promised incredible pay-off. I am more than happy to read through a slow opening if I'm certain to get the kind of pay-off Ms. Schwab delivers! She did an amazing job of establishing her world and her characters with just enough tension and suspense to hook my interest, but not so much that I was baffled by action, giving me plenty of time to get my feet under me, so to speak.


Kell. I loved Kell. At first I was a bit afraid that he would end up being a bit two-dimensional. But by the end of the story, he had endeared himself to me so much! He's a bit of the "straight man" compared to the hugely vivacious Lila, but that really worked. And while he seems serious and controlled, he's got such depths of volcanic anger inside him that is just fascinating to observe.


Lila. I mean, does anyone not love Lila? But honestly, I am a bit surprised at how much I liked her! I am NOT a fan of the murderous heroines who are so popular in YA fiction these days. I just don't feel like a girl needs to be bloodthirsty and cutthroat to be interesting and cool. Lila, however . . . she works for me. She is bloodthirsty in her way, and she is definitely cutthroat. But as her story progressed, I felt I really understood her. She's a firecracker, but she's not ONLY a firecracker. And I loved how she took charge of her own story again and again and again. She determines events, events never determine her!


The Londons. There was something very Neil Gaiman about the world-building of the Londons. Not that Ms. Schwab's actual writing style is Gaiman-esque. It's not. But the idea of the multiple Londons felt very Gaiman, very Sandman Chronicles. And I loved that.This story is dark with that delicious sort of darkness that makes it compulsively readable.


I wish I could somehow--SOMEHOW--express how much I enjoyed this book in mere words! I only just finished reading it, however, so I'm still kind of reeling. And so many others have said what I think so much better, so I'll probably have to stop trying now . . .




Two small matters of historical inaccuracy distracted me as I read. Granted, this is a fantasy . . . but Grey London is apparently OUR WORLD, and at the beginning of this book the monarch on the throne of Grey London is King George III. Who died in 1820.


So where in the world did various characters get shotguns (invented in the 1860s) and revolvers (invented in 1835)?


A very minor quibble, I'll grant you. But those little bits did jar me briefly as I read along. Still, I'm more than happy to shrug it off as "well, it's not QUITE our world," and wouldn't dream of docking even half a star for such a little thing. (And I'm no historian, so if any of you know more about this than I do, feel free to correct me!)


Anyway, all that to say--The Hype Is Real. It's Really Real. So if you haven't read this book yet, do yourself a favor and grab a copy!


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