There are two things that I feel are important to put out there before I review A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.
- I mostly listened to the audiobook (available from Audible), and I have to admit that I found my mind wandering many times because it just did not keep me interested (the beginning especially). And...
- If this book had not been personally recommended to me by a friend, I would have stopped reading within the first fifty pages.
This book definitely had an interesting plot and an ending that I wasn’t expecting. The story is set in a reality where there are four worlds existing together. The four worlds are connected through identical quirks in geography. That means that there is Grey London (normal world), Red London, White London, and Black London, and each world has a different level of magic. Kell and Lila (the heroes of the story) end up having to work together to get a dangerous artifact back to the forbidden Black London that it came from. I really thought it was going in a Lord of the Rings direction especially when the powerful artifact started having addictive and possessive qualities, but like I said, the ending took me somewhat by surprise.
Although I was quite bored by the exposition heavy beginning, by the end I had gotten into the plot of the story. It was an interesting read, and I will probably read the other two books in the series eventually, but for me it just wasn’t what I wanted out of a good story. A big part of that was the characters. For me, a good book will make you either love the characters or hate them. This book did not. I didn’t really care much about the characters. Even at one point when I was certain that an important character was going to die, my reaction was more “Oh, that’s too bad” instead of “Why?! Why must the good ones always die?!” (my reaction to almost every death in the Harry Potter series) or “Finally! He is finally going to get what he deserves!” (my reaction to a certain death in A Game of Thrones). I personally felt like the characters were a little recycled. I have definitely seen more than one female character like Lila who had to become tough as nails on the streets and will do whatever needs doing to protect herself. I felt like there was real potential in the creativity of the worlds and the use of magic, but I wanted more uniqueness, more depth to the characters. Maybe that is something that will come in the next book.
I gave this book three stars because it wasn’t my favorite and I won’t be recommending it to anyone, but if you’re looking for a fantasy adventure story with magic and just enough romantic intrigue to keep you guessing, A Darker Shade of Magic is not a bad way to go.
Check this book out now on Goodreads!