Series Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) by V.E. Schwab

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Darker Shade of Magic (from Goodreads):
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

breakdown

Series: Shades of Magic Trilogy
Author: V.E. Schwab (aka Victoria Schwab)
# of Books: 3 (A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, A Conjuring of Light)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, A Conjuring of Light, will be published in February 2017
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Alternate Dimensions
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When this book first came out, it was on a lot of the blogs that I follow. Schwab’s The Archived Series has been on my TBR for a while but this one compelled me to pick it up first. I won’t lie, it was probably the cover 😛 But actually, I’ve really been loving alternate dimension books recently and I needed one for my Ready for Spring Bingo 2015 card so this was my pick!

So I was really excited to pick up this book even though I wasn’t entirely sure what was in store for me (I avoided all reviews for it before I read it to keep my mind clear of spoilers). I hoped for a fast paced adventure with witty banter between the two leads and I couldn’t wait to get started!

The World:

I really recommend that you start this book when your mind is clear and you aren’t really tired. I made the mistake of reading the first 100 pages (approx. a third of the book) fighting off some shut-eye and I had a very hard time grasping the world. I found that it definitely got easier to understand the more I read, but I think that was because we actually get a breakdown of everything all at once as Lila learns about the dimensions.

Because really, the dimensions are easy to understand as is the role of magic in the worlds. I love all the layers–literally and metaphorically. It’s great world-building and one of the coolest alternate dimension stories I have read. I just wish I was in a better place when I first picked it up so it didn’t take so long for me to get into it.

The Plot:

I really feel like this book could have been a lot shorter than it was. I found the first 100 pages to be really slow. I’m sure my tiredness played a role but considering the plot described in the synopsis doesn’t really start until we are 100 pages in I feel like I am justified in that conclusion. I like and appreciate world/plot building but I don’t like when it is prolonged.

Especially when we actually get to the main plot of the story and it’s an AMAZING ride! Despite this book being nearly 300 eBook pages, the last 200 pages fly by! The plot moves at a great pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are a lot of great twists and action and I loved every minute of it!

I feel like there is a greater emphasis on the role of magic in these worlds instead of how the alternate dimensions work. Of course the alternate dimensions play a huge role but magic is really the heart of the story. (I hope that makes sense). As a reader who doesn’t really love magic stories, I really liked this one and how it is executed. There was a great balance between the magic elements, the dimensions and action.

The Characters:

It took me a while to like Kell–again, I think it was my tired state–but I loved Lila as soon as we met her! I love the bad-ass thief that she is and her wit. Together, Kell and Lila make one fantastic duo. Their banter back and forth was so much fun to read and I loved watching them learn to work together and trust each other.

I also love that there are good guys and bad guys–and that the bad guys are really bad. It makes for some interesting events which is a lot of fun. But I also like that Kell and Lila have flaws–that they aren’t straight-laced characters that are righteous in everything they do. They can be just as ruthless but you still want to root for them because their hearts are in the good places.

The Romance:

While there is definitely chemistry between Kell and Lila, this book has practically no romance. I think it’s going to come into play in later books but this book isn’t a romance by any means.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really curious to see what is in store next for these characters and their worlds. I can’t wait to see how everything develops over the next two books!

updates

–August 31, 2016– Book #2: A Gathering of Shadows

OK, this took me wayyyyy to long to get into.

I found the first 45% of the book to be terribly slow. Like, I contemplated actually finishing it or not because it wasn’t capturing my attention. But then I remembered I had the same feelings with ADSOM but in the end, I really enjoyed it. And like in ADSOM, I feel like you could have easily cut 100 (eBook) pages out and still had a kick ass story!

I mean the last 50% was AWESOME! Even if it felt a little like filler, I was thoroughly entertained. I like the hints we got of where things are going in the finale and it was nice to see the development of other characters as well as Lila and Kell.

In short: this was a slow start if you are someone who doesn’t love lots of descriptions but it becomes and enjoyable adventure past the halfway mark.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

A Darker Shade of Magic 4/5 | A Gathering of Shadows 3.5/5 | A Conjuring of Light TBR

overall

This book starts really slow but once it gets going, it really doesn’t stop! It’s beautifully crafted and the rest of the series shows a lot of promise! I am definitely by putting Schwab’s work higher on my TBR list after this one!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance
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Comments 4

  • I loved ADSOM so much and can’t wait for the sequel. The worldbuilding is spectacular, but I love the characters and their interaction most of all. I am such a Lila fangirl, she’s my new book girlfriend. Kell I also liked, but I thought his character improved a whole lot with Lila around… and I confess I ship them a little haha.

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