A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
Final Thoughts: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Oh, boy. Okay. First of all, I need to present a crucial disclaimer: I do not read fantasy books.
Let me explain. It’s not because I don’t like fantasy. Far from it, in fact, because I am a Harry Potter Freak (yes, with a capital F), and I devoured all 5,000+ pages of A Song of Ice & Fire. Fantasy is an expansive, immersive, wonderful , wild world! Over the years, I just got tangled up in classics and thrillers and literary fiction, and walked further away from the magical worlds of the fantasy section of Barnes & Noble.
Bookstagram properly hyped me up for V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. I tread lightly with fantasy recommendations from Bookstagram only because I’m not a big fan of YA, and I’m terrible at navigating the waters of disappointment if I don’t love the same thing that my friends love.
One small influx of birthday money and a book haul later, and I ventured into the
world worlds of Shades of Magic.
I am indescribably happy that I did.
V.E. Schwab has created an insanely elaborate world in which, Kell, a blood magician, couriers messages between the four different Londons and their rulers. When he finds an illicit artifact from the obliterated Black London, he rushes to return the mysterious stone back to its homeland. However, the stone gives off an addictive source of magical energy and power, and Kell must fight the urge to let it consume him or the dangerous people who are chasing it down.
Each of the four Londons is unique, and Schwab has created languages, characters, cultures, and histories for each of them.The magic that she created for her trilogy is so distinct, and so far from derivative. A Darker Shade of Magic is a decadently layered majesty, and I would happily devour this book if it had 1,000 pages instead of 400. I am so starving to get my hands on the sequels, and find out more about these fascinating worlds.
I am hopeful that the sequels will allow us to get closer to the characters. Schwab’s sophisticated prose makes it easy to digest the complexities of her world-building, but I never felt a rush of passionate interest in Kell, Holland, or Lila. As a reader, I relied much more on the fast-paced plot and intriguing environment to fuel my enthusiasm, but I would love to feel the same investment about the cast. That said, I honestly loved the story so much that nothing can weigh my five-star-rating down.
A Darker Shade of Magic has made me excited about fantasy in a way that only the titans of my bookshelf have (i.e. A Song of Ice & Fire and Harry Potter). I feel ready to take on the entire world of fantasy, and go out on the limbs that I haven’t risked before. This book is the definition of the phrase “worth the hype.” I am so thankful that I found this darkly magical series.