Completeness is, weirdly enough, a mathematical word. It’s talking about logic, a theory is complete when it can always be derived. And as a mathematician all I can say is I like my blog how I like my logic: complete. So here is a dusty old review for a book I read in 2017 publishing before it’s sequels review.
A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell, a man with magic powers and an ever changing coat who has the rare ability to travel between worlds. He lives in London and the world’s he visits all portray a slightly different version: his own, Red London, is glistening and full of magic. White London is starved of magic and dying, while Grey London is our own London just set slightly in the past. But what happens when White London attempts a hostile takeover in a desperate attempt for survival?
I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
Her smile widened. “Everything
As my first step into adult fantasy I was a bit nervous picking up this many paged tiny print novel, back in January 2017. In hindsight, my worries were all pointless- A Darker Shade of Magic was a brilliant read.
Adult fantasy is not that big a leap from YA fantasy. The main characters are a little older, but the whole thing feels very similar- creative plots, spunky heroins, and easily accessible. This book is doesn’t take itself too seriously, there’s still humour and an engaging plot which I was slightly worried it would lack. It’s very readable and digestible, I’d say it’s a good bridge between fantasy YA and adult fantasy (not that I’ve read much of the later).
VE Schwab has the power to make time slow down with her writing. The events of the novel take place over a mere two days yet are so exciting and enthralling that I didn’t feel the plot was dragged out at all. So much happens in such a short time: epic fights, characters fears and flaws, and even a classic ball scene in a mere two days. This novel is remarkable.
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still”
This quote sums up Lila perfectly. She’s a girl who tags along with Kell, desperate to leave her mundane life in Grey London and longing for something new. Also she dreams of being a pirate- definitely my kind of heroine. What I liked most was how Lila reacts to the masquerade ball in this novel. Similar to the classic trope she gets all dressed up, a tailor specially making her outfit and picking out her mask. But unlike other novels she doesn’t wear some massive, flowing, princess dress. Because that’s just not Lila. She gets some proper boots, a nice suit, a scary mask: practical attire for the night ahead. It’s so true to her character and so unexpected, one of my favourite book ball scenes.
Kell’s character is more serious and determined. Confined to his job he has one small act of rebellion: smuggling trinkets between worlds that later lead to dire consequences. It’s nice to watch how Lila and Kell’s characters grow together and how they come to care for each other as the unlikely partnership forms.
Rhy laughed silently. “I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”
The final character I particularly enjoyed was Rhy, Kell’s brother and the crown prince. His charming exterior hides his fear for lacking magic, making him a complex and funny character to read who instantly comes alive on the page. The brotherly relationship between Kell and Rhy is sweet and adds more tenderness to an otherwise sharp novel.
Overall I’d recommend this novel to any fantasy fan. It is slightly more gory than younger YA is, but is very accessibly written for older readers who haven’t read much adult.