A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

24845064Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
Amazon ebook 401 Titan Books Fantasy February 20th, 2015

ADSOM sat on my Kindle for 15 months (!!!) before I started reading it! Bloody sacrilege! And stupid me for delaying and keeping myself from an enjoyable read…

I will mention NOTHING of the plot! I know some of my blogging buddies have not yet read this book and as such, I will not go into details, at all… Keep the spoiler risk on the minimum!

Magic was a truly beautiful disease. 

For the first 25-30% of the book, I didn’t really understand the hype. While I could agree the premise was interesting, the characters solid and atmosphere intriguing, I was simply not excited! I actually reached out on FB to talk about the excitement bit and how important it is when reading a book… ADSOM, at the start, was just not that magical to me… I had of course seen the hallelujas for Kell’s coat… everywhere… but I’m the kind of girl that if everyone likes something and wants it, I don’t. It’s the general mass consensus about something that makes my excitement grind to a halt and run in the opposite direction for something different.

Anyway, you’ve all heard of Murphy’s Law. So, the minute I hesitated about X, Y happened. Or some such 😀 At the 30% mark, ADSOM with all its glory started sucking me in. I mean, if there is ever a story that made me imagine a small ball of snow growing bigger and bigger as it rolled down the slope, ADSOM is it. I found the groove and I was in it for one sitting read, long into the early hours of the morning.

“And if you don’t survive?” challenged Kell.

“Then you can raid my corpse,” she said. “I doubt I’ll care.”

I can’t deny that I liked Kell from the start. He knows how to appreciate the small things. I was waiting with anticipation for the moment his path crossed with Lila. What a splendid clash of characters from different walks of life.

Kell is one of two with a blood full of magic across the various Londons. You could say, he knows and sees a whole lot more than any of the other residents from any of London. He has a grasp of life and people from various viewpoints, giving him the characteristics of a thinker. In a way, I think Kell is the type of universal character with an open, intelligent mind deeming him selfless and considerate.

Lila, on the other hand, is bold! I like Lila, and I like that she likes boys toys! As a survivor of lifelong hardship one needs a certain mentality to present obstacles the middle finger and come out on top in spite of. And when she didn’t give two hoots about the fancy dresses, instead choosing to go for the practical attire meant for men- I laughed and nodded my head. Nice one, Lila! I approve! Drop the glitz and glitter, opt for the need-to-have. The fact that she has plenty of unwaivering personality won me over in no time. Her very being has been hardened due to her circumstances but not once did she complain, not once did she wallow like a damsel in distress and she always approached situations with a ‘let’s just get this over and done with’ attitude.

“You look more ready to storm a city than seduce a man.”

So, yes, when Kell and Lila met- I repeat- it was a splendid clash to revel in! Just so we’re clear, I’m not talking about chemistry sparkling and crackling in a romantic sense. Which brings me to the point about the, thankfully, missing insta-love scenario. There was no swooning, the was no drooling, there was no hormone-induced ‘I wish I got laid by that specimen’ kind of gibberish. For this alone, the book deserves kudos.. for not going down the beaten path!

Another relationship I would like to address in my review is the one in between Kell and Rhy. Brothers, in a sense. But, yes, brothers. There weren’t many or long scenes where these two were presented to the reader. And YET, somehow, without any kind of droning on about it, Schwab managed to show me exactly how much love and loyalty lies in between the two. Their distinctive personalities, quite opposite to each other, were not used in this case to create a conflict as such, but rather demonstrate even more how much caring exists in between the two.

“A fine idea,” said Rhy. “But no. We must go out, you see, because we’re on a mission.” 
“Oh?” asked Kell. 
“Yes. Because unless you plan to wed me yourself—and don’t get me wrong, I think we’d make a dashing pair—I must try and find a mate.”

There are other characters in ADSOM, of course, but those will be left for new readers to discover for themselves.

As far as the plot goes, I found it to be quite imaginative and despite my initial lack of conviction and faith about the excitement element in this book, I am happy to have been proven wrong. ADSOM is charming and charismatic, it’s essence purely magical and unrushed, the ebb and flow of conflict and respite nicely balanced.

*holds up hands in surrender* – it’s worth the hype!

That leaves me with my rating… Lately, I do not explain the reasoning behind my rating. I will in this case… If there were half measures in star ratings, I would go for 3.5*. Since half stars don’t exist, I will round it up to 4*- even though the start was a bit shaky for me, my excitement was ignited to full flame past the 30% mark. My bought copy also has a number of typos/errors in it and they made me frown- coming from a big publisher, I would expect a level of quality. I’m not saying the book was riddled with them, but where they did appear, they stood out like a sore thumb.

Fact is, I really-really ended up liking this book and this morning I bought book #2. I wish I could dive into it straight away but with work approaching, the impending doom, I have decided to leave A Gathering of Shadows until the next weekend as a worthy treat for myself and make no mistake- I seriously look forward to exploring how the story continues!

A Darker Shade of Magic on Goodreads ¦ Amazon UK ¦ USA ¦ Book Depository

My Review of Vicious by V.E. Schwab



    • Thank you! 🙂 I had one of those rare days when my thoughts just fell into place about a book… lately, I don’t know what waffle I’m on about 😀 hahaha.. I blame work!
      Yes, you should totally try this book out 🙂 I think you would really like it! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Yay! So happy you ended up liking it a lot. I loved how the magical system was air-tight. It is hard to find that lately. So many stories say something will only work one way, but then when the author writes themself into a corner they say, oh except when this happens. I hate that. Ha ha. I think her world building is impeccable in this book. I wish I found the other two books I read of hers as solid and air tight. I am relieved that everyone has been finding the last two books as e engaging! My fave character is Rhy. Thanks for sharing your review. ☺

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know- thinking about the magical system- it’s just really good and I like everything about it… I haven’t read anything quite like it, although some things did remind me of Shadowhunters.. the portalling, or that there was a character who cut a rune on himself to speak English… I haven’t yet looked it up which instance came out with the idea 😀 or was it someone else entirely?!
      Have you not yet read the remaining books in the series? I could probably just check goodreads- haha 😀
      And yes! Rhy sounds fantastic… I can’t wait to read more about him! and everyone, in fact! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Currently reading this and am quite glad to hear about the whole snowball effect for this, especially past the 30% mark. I’ve only heard super great things about this series ever since its release and my expectations are a bit high for it because of that hahah Definitely look forward to how this one will end though. Schwab’s writing style was pretty amazing in This Savage Song, so I hope it won’t be an issue in her… more popular books! 😀 Great review, Liz!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ooooh.. I sure am looking forward to YOUR thoughts on the book… I was not impressed with the beginning but once things started rolling, there was no stopping and I truly connected with the characters.. I hope you enjoy and I can’t wait for your review, Lashaan! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As a true Shades Of Magic fangirl, I’m so happy ADSOM did manage to win you over in the end! I really need to reread this series next year… I need another dose of Lila. (Even though I already named my cat after her haha). Awesome review! xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for making this spoiler free for those slackers of us (I am among them) who have had this sitting for too long. I do appreciate your insight on the fact that it didn’t really grab you until about the 30% mark. I will keep that in mind when I pick it up. It does sound like I am going to love the cast in this one! You have me excited 😉 Fabulous review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you 🙂
      It may just happen you feel differently about the start of the book… I am just always waiting for something big to grab me, to set the book up and I found it a bit slow going… if you feel the same way, just wait and it gets so much better 🙂
      I was actually looking on GRs who hadn’t read the book yet and was thinking of you being able to read the review without fear of spoilers 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂
      I hope you do get a chance to read it- it’s kinda magical 🙂 And I think you’ll like the characters as well 🙂
      The slow start did annoy me in the beginning, but looking back at it- good things take time to cook sometimes 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I requested this from the library a few weeks ago and am still waiting! I am glad that you liked it after all.

    Little typos and errors can be really annoying… I even noticed a couple in Godsgrave (since we were just talking about that book).
    Still, I am looking forward to this one… I was hoping it felt like the Dresden files.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hehe honestly, I’ve had books on my kindle for *years*- I wouldn’t feel bad about it 😉 I’m so glad this sucked you in eventually!! (I do get what you mean though- cos I feel like that with a lot of hyped books) I also loved Kell from the start 😀 And the instant clash of personalities when they met was amazing!! And I liked the brother relationship too 😀 I’m glad this one won you over in the end! I hope you like the direction the rest of the series takes!! Great review 😀


    • Awh, thank you! 🙂 I finished the whole trilogy over Christmas time and it’s really solid. I hope you do enjoy if you decide to go for it… even better- the whole trilogy is out so you can do a proper reading marathon! 😀


  7. I’m so glad you stuck this out, Liis! Yes, this series is a favorite of mine. I knew when I originally read this book, however, that you would adore Lila. She’s so powerful and unforgiving. What I love about this series i that Schwab does a slow build with her characters.I think Rhy and Kell’s relationships is one of my favorite parts of this first book.

    What do you think of Holland? Will you be continuing the series? If you think this is a small snowball gathering more as it rolls, well, the angle of the hill doesn’t really increase much in the next two books, but the snowball doesn’t stop if you get my drift. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes- the slow character build completely paid of in the end- I actually went ahead over holiday period and finished the trilogy but never got around to writing reviews because of blogging burnout… I solidly enjoyed the series though!

      Holland… even though it’s hard to like him at first, I have to say by the end of it all it was very hard to hate him. His storyline was very well beefed out- all the reasons and mistakes he makes and the ending for him was just perfect, I thought!


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