- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books (Feb. 24 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765376458
- ISBN-13: 978-0765376459
- Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 3.5 x 21.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 454 g
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel Hardcover – Feb 24 2015
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“A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Its plot is gripping. Its characters are memorable. Its setting in four parallel, powerful Londons is otherworldly yet believable. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale that is original in its premise and compelling in its execution. This is a book to treasure.” ―Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author of The All Souls Trilogy
“Compulsively readable...her characters make the book. Just as Kell has layers, Lila is a satisfyingly rich invention...With so many worlds on the map, there's plenty left to discover.” ―NPR
“A Darker Shade of Magic feels like a priceless object, brought from another, better world of fantasy books.” ―io9
“Schwab (Vicious) creates an ingenious set of nesting alternate Londons in this imaginative, well-crafted fantasy. Confident prose and marvelous touches-a chameleon coat, a scarlet river of magic, a piratical antiheroine-bring exuberant life to an exhilarating adventure among the worlds.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A Darker Shade of Magic is smart, funny and sexy ... Schwab keeps the excitement coming with roller-coaster plot twists that establish her as, perhaps, the natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones's contemporary fantasy crown.” ―The Independent
“Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.” ―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
V. E. Schwab's first adult novel, Vicious, debuted to critical praise and reader accolades. Schwab is the author of YA novels The Near Witch, The Archived, and The Unbound. She is also currently writing a fantasy middle grade series with Scholastic.
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Victoria Schwab's books blow all that out of the water, and A Darker Shade of Magic was no exception. In fact, it far exceeded some of her previous novels in the sense that every part of the story-- tension, character development, relationships, everything-- fit together like a perfect puzzle, so seamlessly that you can barely FIND the seams.
ADSOM is not my favorite of her books, which comes down simply to personal preference, but it is probably one of the best executed novels yet. It has rendered me pretty much speechless. I can't find words for this other than 'wow,' which almost irritates me. It means Victoria Schwab has taken that next step into crafting novels, truly mastering the art of storytelling, which makes my job as a reviewer a hell of a lot harder, but my experience as a reader so much richer. I could not help but get swept away by the story every time I opened the pages. The truly amazing part was what brought me back when I had to put it down wasn't the story's tension, but the story itself. Yes, there was the perfect amount of tension to accent what was going on, but what kept bringing me back was just a pure love of the story on its own. Kell and Lila could have been picking daisies and going grocery shopping and it would still have me desperate to have more.
If you love magic, if you love adventure, if you love a damn good story, you've got to read this. It's not even a book I feel I have to scream about from rooftops because the book does that all its own. This book envelops you as completely as the Black London stone does to Kell. It's rich, intoxicating, and something incredibly special-- luckily for us, this book isn't about to turn our veins black. Then again, knowing Schwab...
5/5 stars. Just... speechless.
V.E Schwab has written a unique historical fantasy read set within the YA genre. There's action, magic and even a want-to-be pirate. She gives her readers strong characters, an interesting premise with some great twists all within fantastically unique settings.
In this world there are four different London's existing in parallel universes, each with their own degree of magic which has affected each city in significantly different ways. Grey London which is quite similar to our own world, has no magic and is unaware of any of the other Londons. White London has a darker kind of magic with constant power struggles where the weak are held in check by the powerful. Red London is well-to-do and uses magic to benefit its people. They realize there are other magical realms but since they live lavishly and safely they have no need to bother with worlds outside their own. Finally, there was Black London which succumbed to darker magic leading the other London's to seal all gateways to it and assume that Black London destroyed itself.
Only a select few, called Antari, can travel between the different worlds. This is where Kell comes in. He is an Antari and uses his ability to relay messages from royalty between the different realms ... as well as smuggle, what he deems as innocent, artifacts between the Londons. When one of his smuggling missions puts him in danger he is forced to rely on Lila, a thief from Grey London whose only goals are to survive and find adventure. Unfortunately, Kell and Lila have many enemies who are out to get them and Lila may get more adventure than she bargained for.
This book started off quite strong. Schwab clearly describes her unique setting with the various Londons and I was really drawn to Kell and, even more so, Lila. She's feisty, doesn't put up with a lot of guff and plays by her own set of rules. Kell is quite powerful in his own right and struggles to find where he truly fits in. He makes mistakes and finds himself relying on Lila, a common street thief. There are some decent twists and I enjoyed that no one is who they seem - except maybe the villains who were evil-to-the-core nasties who didn't appear to have any redeeming qualities.
I'd give the first half of the book a solid 4 stars but my rating of the second half faltered to a three when my attention started to wain about two-thirds through. The ending seemed a bit rushed and felt like it fell into place a little too easily. I also wasn't fond that I was left with quite a few unanswered questions.
This book is all about brilliant world building with unique characters and ruthless villains. And while the ending was a little lackluster after all of the build up I can't help but think that things will be explained better in the second installment of this series, A Gathering of Shadows (Feb 2015). Recommended for fans of historical fiction with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure.
"I'm not going to die," she said. "Not till I've seen it."
Her smile widened. "Everything."
"You know so little of war. Battles may be fought from the outside in, but wars are won from the inside out."
"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."
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