“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
– A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Now this trilogy has been one everyone has told me I would love! It features a unique parallel world spin on a real life city we are all familiar with – London. With four different Londons, rebellious – and apparently badass – characters, and unique magic, how on earth could I not be excited to read these books? Not to mention, V.E. Schwab is infamous for having a writing style all her own, so I went into this first novel with high expectations.
A Darker Shade of Magic starts off with character. I really enjoy reading Schwab’s writing because she uses a very casual, almost conversational diction when conveying her characters’ movements and narrating their story. The style just holds a reader’s attention and invites them to join the journey. Immediately the characters don’t feel flat or two dimensional just through the writing alone, and I think it’s a huge testament to Schwab as a writer.
We begin with learning about Kell, his magic coat, and the different Londons – Red, White, Grey, and Black. And I have to say I absolutely fell in love with the idea that all the Londons were different, unique, and that magic was a little different to each. This is definitely one of the most unique worlds I’ve encountered, and I really enjoyed getting to know the magic, history, and politics behind them all. None of the Londons are idealised; there is blood, darkness, and gritty sides to each of them and their lifestyles, which I really appreciate about these worlds!
Not going to lie, I was expecting the great writing, but I was expecting even more so for the characters to take the cake in this novel. Kell is adorable. He’s one of those characters who wants love and is sweet and good at heart, which is so cleverly contrasting with his call to magic. I absolutely loved him as a protagonist! Lila on the other hand, fell short for me. Oh yes, I can hear everyone booing me now – I’m sorry! I’ve heard about how badass Lila is and how so many people wish they could be her, but I just didn’t click with her. I liked how she didn’t shy away from gore, grit, and magic, but I sighed at how oblivious she was to a lot of dangers, all “in the name of adventure”. I mean I get it, I’d jump into adventure too if it showed up at my door like that! But it irked me all the same. That said, I think I picked up on the hints about her character and why she might have such a call for adventure.
I have a feeling that as the trilogy goes on, the better it will be for the reader. I know a few people who weren’t completely hooked after the first book either but call it their favourite trilogy now, so I’m optimistic! I definitely recommend this book because it is so unique! Let me know what your thoughts were on this first installment.