I think hyped books and authors are scary. It’s this mixed feeling of wanting to read something everyone is calling ‘spectacular’, and then being afraid that you’ll be that one voice of dissension. Sometimes I never touch a hyped book, and sometimes I give in. I gave in to A Darker Shade of Magic. I was even extra courageous, I bought it in print!
After letting it sit on my shelf for a few months, I finally read it. Fast. It was so good. Until finishing A Darker Shade of Magic I’d not read anything else by Victoria Schwab, and I’m really happy that this was my first one. I’m always on the prowl for Fantasy books that don’t follow the current fantasy trend. (Right now that’s all kinds of stories similar to Throne of Glass. They’re even remaking covers to mimic them. It annoys me.) A Darker Shade of Magic definitely stands alone, having one of the most unique premises I’ve read.
“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.”
Even better, there was more to the story than awesome world building. The characters were pretty amazing too. I liked Kell immediately, right from the first paragraph about his coat. Just like the four London’s, I’d never read another character like Kell. He felt both young and mischievous, and he felt older and wise. I understood his internal struggle with his life, and adored his love for Prince Rhy. In fact, this was one of my two favorite aspects of A Darker Shade of Magic. Rhy and Kell simply love each other like the closest of brothers. There weren’t really jealousies or arguments. It was incredibly sweet.
My other favorite part of the story was Delilah Bard. I know that I usually go on about women in novels that are strong in nonviolent ways, but Lila was really just awesome. It wasn’t even her prowess with her weapons. It was her wit and her dreams. It was in the moments of vulnerability that we’d glimpse. Schwab knows how to write a female character with grace and strength. I loved Lila.
I’m trying to think of something I didn’t like, or a reason that explains why I’m only rating A Darker Shade of Magic 4 stars. I got nothin. I guess this one boils down to how I’m hoping that A Gathering of Shadows is even better. I love to leave one to grow on.
“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”