Sep 23, 2015

This book is awesome. Enough said || A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab

(Phone wallpaper credit goes to Aimee from The Social Potato)

Title : A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E.Schwab
Release Date: February 27th 2015
Publisher : Titan Books

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

If you follow me in twitter, you would already know that I am a huge fan of Victoria a.k.a V.E. Schwab. I love her Vicious to death, adore all her other books, and after reading A Darker Shade of Magic, I can say without a doubt that she is my favourite author. Period! I'll probably read even a terms and conditions page if it's written by her!

A Darker Shade of Magic is a complex and intricate high fantasy, where there are four types of London. Red London is a place where magic is common, appreciated and praised. Grey London is devoid from a single trace of it, and most citizens doesn't even know the existence of it. White London craves it, where control is in a brink and power is dangerous. Black London is extinct, where the darkness of magic, has consumed the city and its inhabitants. 

“Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.” 

Each London is separated from each other, via figurative doors, through which only two people can ever travel, one of which is our MC - Kell. His eventful life turns chaotic when he comes across an object that shouldn't exist, travels with a person he shouldn't hang out with and fights against a force which will most probably consume his own life.

One of the most beautiful things about Victoria's books is that they deal with a thin line - the grey area- between two contrasting forces. In The Archived, it was the line between what should be remembered and what's best left forgotten. In Vicious, it was the complex grey area between good and bad - a villain and a hero. Like wise, A Darker Shade of Magic dabbles with balance. The balance between power and darkness, and portrays the harsh reality of how easy it is for power to be consumed by darkness, greed, hunger and insanity.

The world building of ADSOM is terrific! The whole concept of different Londons and the different shades of magic which was portrayed in the book was beautifully written. Victoria has a way of explaining her world without info dumping, which I've never seen any other author pull off so effortlessly. By the time you finish the book, you'll know every single nook and corner of ADSOM's world building, but at the same time, not a single moment while reading the book, would you have felt like she's stuffing you with information. Every single revelation is carefully timed and worded, which is a trademark of her books, which I adore.

Moving on to the characters, there were a couple of them who made a mark in me. First of all, we have Kell, our MC. He's an Antari - one who can perform blood magic, and he dwells in Red London, where he is considered as an adopted prince, and is admired as well as feared. I loved his character so much! He reminded me of Victor from Vicious - who is one of my all time favourite character - but he was a less nefarious and more arrogant version of Victor. Plus, by the latter half of the book, he was engaged in an intense war within himself, hanging onto the threads of balance while he tried so hard to keep his powerful soul away from darkness. It was a hard battle for him to win, and his slow but steady victory was beautiful to read about!

“You know so little of war. Battles may be fought from the outside in, but wars are won from the inside out.” 

( For some reason, I was reminded of this quote often while I was reading the book)

Lila - a brave, defiant, amazing, cross dressing, aspiring pirate and current thief/cutthroat/pickpocket - is Kell's companion when he drags himself into some sticky business. This girl was absolutely amazing! I loved how she had a thirst for adventure, and never backed out of a challenge or said no. Her fierce protective nature towards Kell, her determination and her carefree attitude towards life, all made her a favourite of mine!

“Aren't you afraid of dying?" he asked Lila now.
She looked at him as if it were a strange question. And then she shook her head. "Death comes for everyone," she said simply. "I'm not afraid of dying. But I am afraid of dying here." She swept her hand over the room, the tavern, the city. "I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” 

Rhy - the prince of Red London - was adorable! He was a flirt and a laid back character, but his unconditional love for Kell, his sense of loyalty and most of all, his empathy and forgiving nature, made me admire him quite a lot! His bromance with Kell was adorable as well!

I'd also like to mention Holland here - who was an antagonist, but he made a lasting impact in me. It's hard to describe him without spoiling anything, but his last scene in the book made me cry a lot!
Two more terrific characters are Athos and Astrid Dane! Woah, I was petrified of these villains! I wish they had more screen time though, they were two of the best villains I've ever come across!

“The bodies in my floor all trusted someone. Now I walk on them to tea.” 

Romance always take a backseat in Schwab's books, which was the same case in ADSOM. Kell and Lila had a wonderful companionship, and they have a potential romance which is hinted by the end of the book. Plus, I also loved the fact that Rhy is bisexual - it's not everyday that there's a LGBT character in a fantasy book - and I am looking forward to see what Victoria has planned for him as well!

“He would see her again. He knew he would. Magic bent the world. Pulled it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time they were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila felt like a pin in Kell's world. One he was sure to snag on.” 

A Darker Shade of Magic was a fast paced story! I finished it in one sitting, as it kept me engrossed, and the writing just flowed through me, and there's never a dull moment in the book. I also loved the fact that everything was chaotic in the story, as nothing went as planned, characters made mistakes, had epic failures and went to the brink of death and came back. It's such an eventful book that you can't have the liberty of breathing a sigh of relief, because the next moment, there'll be something to keep you worried again!

Overall, A Darker Shade of Magic is a book which you SHOULD read! ASAP! And if you haven't read this one or any other book by Victoria Schwab, go remedy that soon because her books are awesome! THEY ARE THE BEST!!!! I am dying to read the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, counting the days painfully until February 2016.

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