“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
This was my first Victoria Schwab book and after reading this, it definitely won’t be my last.
A Darker Shade of Magic is truly a fantasy novel with its own unique language and worlds. ADSOM lands itself as one of the most unique books I’ve ever read.
I loved learning about the four different Londons (although there’s really only three now since one has fallen). While each London is vastly different from the next, and three are fictional, Schwab did a fantastic job at making each one feel real. With the exception of Black London that we don’t get to see since it fell many centuries before. Schwab’s writing style was eloquent, addicting, and easy to read. I was hooked from the very first page, not an easy feat to do, and couldn’t seem to put it down without reading a section at a time, at least. She made each world feel real and very tangible by playing on all of the senses. My favorite was White London, where not only did it feel cold and barren but you always felt a sense of fear present when the characters were there. White London is ruled by twins Athos and Astrid who murdered their way to the throne who remind me of Vincent and Violet, aka the Lovers, from the Arcana Chronicles. Those two were power and magic hungry enough to give me chills.
Despite the large cast of characters, each one was very different from the next. Kell, an Antari who is also the adopted prince in Red London, who has a bad habit of smuggling trinkets between worlds is a badass and strong character. He was quite complex and was refreshingly relatable. I also loved his coat which had many sides to it, like the owner, and it was a very unique piece to the story.
Lila is the cross-dressing thief, but wants to be a pirate, that would much rather have boots and a sword than a pretty dress and corset. She is just as strong and badass, if not more, than Kell. She was such a wildcard during the book and was fun to read about as she made decisions most people wouldn’t make, but were daring enough to make you wonder why and still root for her. I’m looking forward to reading more about her in the next one.
Another reason that this book was so good for me was Schwab took more than a hundred pages for the plot, and action, to settle in. In the first hundred pages she built the worlds the characters would take place in, and let us get to know the character adequately. She took time to build and add details to all three London’s that made them feel that level of real that I felt. Because of this, the story flowed much smoother and I was able to focus on the plot instead of trying to picture the scenery around them.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel despite the fact that this book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. (Edit: I later found out that Schwab likes to have her first books in series to be able to stand alone, which this one definitely could, but I want to know what happens next)
Featured photo retrieved from Goodreads.