Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Source: Online Library
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I’ve read my fill of Victoria Schwab’s books, and I’m really beginning to see why she’s such a well-loved author. I’ve read The Near Witch and The Archived, which were both great Young Adult fantasy reads, but neither of those compare to her most recent adult fantasy, A Darker Shade of Magic. ADSOM follows the main character Kell, who is one of two other Antari, parallel-London travelers. The Antari are a dying breed, so his life is highly valued in these Londons. I’ve always known Schwab to create extremely well-developed and creative worlds, but ADSOM is a whole new level of awesome.
The book starts off in a pretty confusing manner – not going to lie there. This was my main issue. The organization and the way the story is told is a bit complex, considering that there are four types of Londons: White, Black, Red, and Grey. Kell has the ability to travel to White, Red, and Grey London, so he meets many different characters. However, ADSOM is not told from Kell’s perspective. In fact, it’s told from an omniscient narrator, so as readers, we meet characters that not even Kell meets. Some characters were a bit unnecessary and made the beginning of the story a little overwhelming because there were so many introductions.
Other than that, ADSOM is fantastic in terms of world-building, characters, and plot. While the beginning is confusing because of execution, the rest of the book allows the reader to really sink into the world of all of the Londons. The fantasy aspect is intriguing and dark – it truly gave me goosebumps and made me shiver. Schwab reveals little snippets of this dark magic and it makes the reader want more (a.k.a flip the next page, and the next, and the NEXT.) Not only is the world-building solid, but the characters are also very nicely developed. Kell meets his partner-in-crime, Lila Bard, a smart, sassy thief. They are the perfect pair and the snarky dialogue between them keeps the story light. Even the villains (yes, plural!) are evil, scheming, and AWFUL in the best way possible. Schwab is skilled at making all of her characters come to life. Lastly, the plot is extremely well paced, as there is never a slow moment. There’s always someone chasing someone else, so you’re almost on the run, too.
For all you wondering about romance, I have to applaud Schwab for escaping this path for 98% of the book! There are miniscule moments of romantic love, but they are so few that it’s barely even there. ADSOM could have become romance-heavy, but I’m extremely glad that Schwab avoided that – in book one at least.
A Darker Shade of Magic is a highly enjoyable read with luscious parallel Londons, tangible characters, and a fast-paced plot. If you loved Schwab’s previous work, be sure to check this one out! Even though it lacks romance (I’m a romance junkie), I was able to enjoy it 100% without it. The beginning is a little shaky in terms of execution of the world, but I was able to delve in and get immersed into the world. I’m jumping up and down for book two – I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Kell and Lila.