Reviews

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

hilke_vlh's review against another edition

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adventurous mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

amynbell's review against another edition

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This book series has been tempting me for years with its amazing covers. But I'm afraid I'm going to have to abandon ship 1/4 of the way through the book. The premise is interesting. There are 4 Londons in parallel worlds that are all different, and only a few people can travel between these worlds through magic. I don't often read fantasy books because I need my fiction to have logic. I want to think that magic is really science in disguise and that, if you look deeply enough, everything has a scientific answer. So if these guys have to use their blood to move between worlds, I want there to be some explanation in their DNA. But that's not the case, so I finally resigned myself to stop trying to figure everything out. Fine. I've read enough time travel and parallel world travel books that don't explain the science. I can deal with this.

HOWEVER ...

The reading I did in the first 100 pages was a slog because the author reiterates again and again how special, rare, and powerful our protagonist's magic is. Not only that, but we have to endure him cutting himself and bleeding and bleeding over and over in a sacrifice to travel between worlds or use his magic to put out fires and whatnot. Enough of the goth emo magic and cutting already. And the majority of the characters we meet are just bad people. They burn ships, they murder, they enslave, they drink blood, and they do torturous magical tattooing with inky knives. I do not care about these people.

Yeah. No. Not my kind of book. Life is too short. I'm done.

mossfloor's review against another edition

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5.0

You ever read a book that makes you feel like changing so many of your book ratings because how can they even touch at the magic of the book you just read?

That’s how I feel about this book.

sageyoung's review against another edition

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adventurous dark funny tense fast-paced

4.75

emycustodio's review against another edition

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3.0

[OFFICIALLY CHANGING THIS BOOK TO 3 STARS! I have just finished A Gathering of Shadows (vol. 2 of the trilogy) and I thought it was so much better, and I realized the first one even though it was pretty fun, doesn't bring me as joy as Gathering of Shadows did. And the second volume isn't so perfect as to be five stars as well (check the review for that afterward) but yeah, I think A Darker Shade of Magic is a three-star novel which doesn't make it bad — at all — a lot of books I like are three stars]

***

This book is an amazing (and fun!) adventure that really just feels like an escape from reality. V.E Schwab surely knows how to do worldbuilding, and I loved the aesthetic of all the Londons and the magic system is complex and AMAZING (probably one of the most unique magic systems I've read in a while).

I also loved how the rhythm of the plot is pure 'cause and consequence'. 'This' happened because 'that' happened and now 'this' is happening. It nearly felt like being inside a game (??? I'm not sure if I'm making any sense) but anyway, it's a positive thing. And speaking of consequences, I did love how Kell just makes so many mistakes that is nearly comical. I love his naivety arc. It's something actually pretty rare to read in fantasy, so points to Schwab.

All the characters are so damn likable and charismatic, it's a joy to read them and be with them. Kell — even though at all times I was like 'oh honey' to him — is sweet, Lila is a badass (shoot me, I just am here for all the female tomboys (that I so easily relate) that are tough, confident, and stuck-up noses. We can so easily accept a male character that stands his ground and knows of all things and is never wrong, but when it is a woman we are always a little hesitant towards liking).
I've seen a lot of people complaining about Lila, and I'm not saying this is the case here (because of what I've talked to people about, they all made amazing points that I shall look for it in the sequel) but it is something I've been questioning for a while now. And hey, I include myself in this, OK?

I really LOVED Astrid and Athos as villains. They are AWESOME and insane and I am just HERE FOR IT.

Holland and Rhy — well, the little I've seen of them I really, really liked. But perhaps this was the reason why I took two stars off....

I can't say that I felt flatness in the characters, not at all. Far from it. The characters all have layers and are gray-ish, which is great. But I missed MORE of them. Of ALL of them, especially Rhy and Holland but even Kell and Lila. I feel — as a Schwab reader — that I'm in the middle of the desert, crawling and begging for water and she comes and gives me just a little drop of it. And I'm crying COME ON WOMAN, GIVE ME MORE! (And I felt that with Vicious as well, regarding the lack of Eli's backstory) however, I did give Vicious five stars because when it comes to the plot and the character development, I felt it was better written than in here. I felt so much plot happening in the story that although it flows perfectly, it doesn't really give us time to get to know and care for the characters and their internal conflicts. And to me, that's what story is all about. The characters. Why are the things happening in the story matter to the characters?

The inciting incident is external — Kell accidentally steals a stone and now wants to return it for the sake of everyone. But what does Kell want? What does he gain with it? Why does he care? What does he stand to lose? (Compare it to Vicious, that the inciting incident is internal, it's all about Victor Vale getting his revenge on the one who has wronged him. We know what he wants, why he cares, what he gains with it, and all he stands to lose, thus making us FEEL a lot more of the importance of the plot). Here, it felt more like the world was more important than the characters.

By the end of the book, we see how important it is Kell and Rhy's relationship, how much Kell cares for Rhy, to the point he literally shares his life with him... but we BARELY see the relationship between the two of them throughout the pages so I could really FEEL in Kell's skin his despair when he thought he was going to lose Rhy.

And this falls to the last point I want to make — I feel Schwab sometimes commits the mistake of telling instead of showing. She tells us too much about how strong the love is between Kell and Rhy, but we barely see that relationship (must say I did love the backstory of Rhy's kidnap and all). I talked to a friend that said she doesn't really like Lila because she never shows how badass she is, she just thinks of it, and although part of that is true (although I must say I bought everything Lila did here because I personally didn't think it was anything that pushed the boundaries of 'I can't believe she is THAT powerful for a human' (which is not even the case and I am SAD)) I feel like this is a recurring problem throughout the book with most things. The black stone is extremely dangerous and powerful and must be destroyed at all costs. But why? And how dangerous? I didn't really FEEL the danger, you know? Mostly it just felt like an awesome rock that does magic. I didn't even feel that the rock was more powerful than the mages themselves.

Anyway, I'm really picking on stuff of a really good book but this is only because I know V.E Schwab is an EXCELLENT writer, I've seen her shining in Vicious, I loved getting to know her work this year, and I am pretty dead excited for the next books of the trilogy. Like I said, it's pretty fun to read. Again, worldbuilding, aesthetic and magic are incredible. I like being with the characters on their crazy journeys and I hope there'll be more time to develop their relationships and more of them in the next installments. I want more of Rhy and Holland (these are characters that every time they were 'on screen' I felt the rising feeling of growing attached only so they'd disappear for a huge chunk of the book afterward). And of course, I need to see whats up with Black London.

P.S: There was ONE character that I grew attached. He starred in three amazing pages and died. His name was Beloc. Rest in piece, my friend.

lonecayt's review against another edition

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3.0

It was alright. I don't think I liked it well enough to want to give the sequel a try, though.

jmaynard17's review against another edition

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5.0

Fantastic! A Harry Potter meets Pendragon with a slightly darker edge.

findmeinfantasy's review against another edition

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5.0

5⭐️ Schwab can take all of my money. ALL OF IT. I don’t know how she does it, but she has once again created a fantasy series that bewitched me, body and soul.

A Darker Shade of Magic has everything you could want in a fantasy series— a complex world with intriguing magic systems, characters that develop beautifully throughout the series and come to feel like family, romance sub-plots with LGBTQ representation, a fast-paced plot with magical tournaments, epic battles, and otherworldly adventures, AND an enchanting writing style that ties it all together. I absolutely devoured this series in a matter of days.

I can confidently say after finishing this trilogy that it is my all-time favorite fantasy series.

abbiestowe's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

alondono's review against another edition

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adventurous fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0