Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab

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Published February 27th 2015 by Titan Books (first published February 24th 2015)
original title
A Darker Shade of Magic
ISBN
1783295406 (ISBN13: 9781783295401)
OK. Let’s talk about this one.
I honestly picked this one up because the cover art was so lovely.
Let’s just get right into it. Things I liked about this:
The world building is on point. The book is first and foremost about the world in which the characters live. We are told about it through the point of view of a man who has full handle on the world, and all aspects of it. The character, Kell, is a swoon-worthy competent, slave/faux-prince and a little bit of a sassy shit. So, of course, I loved that.
I really rooted for him in all his fights and scrambles. But to move onto something I didn’t like, he was way too guarded. I felt like, he had so many walls up, I couldn’t get to know him. I still am unsure if I know who he is.
I might have stopped reading if it weren’t for the introduction of a second hero, Lila. God, was she good. She’s everything you want in a borderline YA heroine. She was competent, an unlikely hero, she’s a quick thief, and smart as hell. But The best part was, she wasn’t perfect. V.E. Schwab perfectly illustrated the Strong Woman VS Complex Woman heroes argument. Lila is competent, yes, she gets things done, but she is so complex, she has vulnerabilities. She’s not a soldier willing to risk her life for the good of her people, she just wants to survive. Her story kept me engaged when Kell gave me the cold shoulder.
In any case, the story is about these two battling magic between worlds and taking down kings and queens.
As I said before, the world building is impeccable. I got a sense of everything Kell thought about the world and how it worked, without being told “This is how things are.” I was shown, and pulled through the world with Kell and Lila. Lila served as a great fellow student and often asked the questions on my mind.
I’m definitely reading the next book in the series when it comes out. I want more Lila, and I want Kell to come out of his shell.
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