‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V.E. Schwab is a book that has been very popular with the booktube community, which is where I first heard of it. Instantly, I was intrigued. The world it was based in called to me the most – parallel universes, each with varying states of magic ability but cut off from one another, save for a few rare people who can travel through.
I absolutely loved the magic in this book. By treating the magic as a living thing, Schwab adds a whole new element to the game – the magic people use can have its own agenda too. Add smuggling, pirates and crazy rulers, and you’ve got a fantastic mix of a plot.
Kell, the main character, is a strong lead. But Lila is even more of a delight. While Kell has the power and the knowledge, Lila has the personality and presence to make the lead duo really work. If it had just been Kell throughout the novel, I probably would have found it a little boring. While an interesting character, I did not really connect with him as much as I would have liked. Lila, on the other hand, I felt, really brought me into the story.
While it started off slow, once the plot got going, it really got going. There were so many different angles going on, that it was difficult knowing how it would all resolve in the end. The leaders of White London where terrifying in their sadism, but add Black London to the mix and you’ve got an even wild adventure. The pacing towards the end was good, and the story kept me hooked. There were consequences for actions and the heroes were not invulnerable.
I enjoyed this book. It did take a while to get into, but once I did, it was a struggle to put down. The structure was entertaining – breaking it up into different section allowed for needed breathers and shifted the tone when things got hairy. The characters were entertaining and they worked well together, and managed to avoid romance which is always a nice change. I think ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ is a book deserving of the hype.