Monday, January 3, 2022

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab


I have a lot of books on my Kindle and one of my newest projects is trying to go through the things on there in order of hype so I can check them off my book bucket list. A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC has been on my radar for a while because people kept recommending it to me, and even though it's not usually something I'd reach for, I was curious. Because, you know, curiosity and cats and all that.

Now that I've FINALLY finished this book, I'm going to list out my thoughts, because that formula seems to be working really well for me and also I'm lazy and it's just easier to do bullet points than it is to be like, "HERE IS MY BOOK REPORT. PLEASE GIVE ME AN A."


👍 Kell. I felt like he was a really interesting character (AND I WANT HIS COAT). He feels believably morally grey and even though you can tell that he operates between the lines of the law, you can also tell that he mostly has a good heart and wants to do what's right.
👍 The magic system. I thought it was really interesting. I like darker fantasy stories where using magic has some kind of sinister cost, and it's pretty chilling what it can do in this universe. I also liked the different "Londons" and the origin story behind them. At first, I wasn't sure about the whole color thing but then I was like, ACTUALLY THIS WEIRDLY MAKES SENSE. Also, kudos to the author for making up her own language just for this book and not having it sound stupid.
👍 The writing. It's very clean and there are some great passages in here about magic and humanity and, you know, life. There's also a fairytale vibe to it that made me think of some of my favorite fantasy novel writers as a kid, like Philip Pullman or Diana Wynne Jones. You'll notice, however, that those two authors are YA authors and there's a "BUT" coming in the "DISLIKES" section that pertains to that.


👎 Lila. Oh hi, Ms. Not Like Other Girls, I didn't see you there. Seriously, frick this frack on a snack. I can't remember the last time I read a book where I wanted to smack a character in the face this many times. She was just so annoying and literally seemed to exist to stir things up. Also, every time she encounters another girl, she's like, "EW." Way to pull up the ladder behind you, girlfriend.
👎 Who is the audience? I understand that this is intended as an adult fantasy novel but it really doesn't read that way. It reads like mature YA and most of the characters are in their late teens and early twenties. It's weirdly prudish about swearing and sexual content, the way so much YA is, and there's a sort of fairytale vibe to the narration that definitely makes it feel like it's for kids. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but I'm not sure it's being marketed the way it should be. It feels like YA and it seems to be popular among YA readers and teens. Seems like an oversight to me. #shrug
👎 The pacing. It kind of goes from 0 to 10 and then dips back down to a 4 at the end. I feel like this book was slightly longer than it needed to be. But hey, it's the first book in a series, so whatever.

Overall... this book was... FINE? I was thinking it was going to be a four-star read until Lila waltzed into the scene and my attention was diverted to hating her, but it also wasn't a "thanks, I hate it" moment, the way some of these hyped up books can be for me. I'm not sure if I'll read further in the series. I actually have book two on my Kindle, so maybe I'll try, but it's going to require a think.

2.5 to 3 out of 5 stars

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