How A Darker Shade of Magic Stole My Heart

how-shatter-me-1I’ve been holding off on this review for a while now because I just don’t know what to say. Like you know when you read a book that you connect with on a super deep level, and words are just too little to express it? Le sigh.

It’s such a powerful book. It’s not a book that drew up much emotional attachment, but it was very meaningful. I mean, I don’t see the characters as my own per se as in the Six of Crows duology, but they did feel very real. And, and this is a complete bonus in my favor, there is NO dramatic romantic collisions in the middle of the world falling apart. That made me very happy. With how intense the book is, if it was just another movie, Kell and Lila would rush at each other from across White London while Kell is in the courtyard and Lila emerges from the palace after the whole Astrid’s scene. BUT NO. Thankfully.

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I’ve heard a lot, and I mean a lot, about this book. And for once, it’s not just limited to this one book. Many authors have one-hit wonders, and usually their other books aren’t so spectacular, and so that’s what really caught me about this book.

People aren’t raving about the book, people are raving about the author. And generally, that makes me interesting because it’s defiant of a stereotype. I’ve heard SO MANY good things about this book. Usually I hear a lot of things about popular books that I read, and not all of them are good, but I’ve heard nothing bad about this book. At all. And specifically the author?! Schwab receives no minimal amount of praise, and NO amount of denigration or criticism.

Also that cover?? It’s so much eye candy I just cannot even deal right now. Like wut. Even. Can publishers do that? I FREAKING LOVE THIS COVER. When we were younger, my cousin’s favorite colors were black and red and that’s all the drawings she would ever draw so now I have a particular liking toward that color combination. Like, no joke. Red and black ducks, red and black parks, red and black cars, red and black books, red and black Santa Claus’ out of Christmas coloring books, red and black Indians for thanksgiving, red and black horses, etc. You’d think I’d get tired of it, but no. Child Veda was a peculiar child indeed, probably. 😉

So all in all, I went into this book with HIGH expectations. I mean, not just because of the cover (even though if books have gorgeous
covers I expect a ton because they have to live up to that cover duh #WERK) but because of how much I’ve heard about Schwab and all of her books in general.

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Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.
Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped. 
-G
oodreads

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the originality such as layered worlds and layered pie too*

halp my dear frens.

I’m just in awe. There’s no way to put it, because 1) this is the consequence I suffer when I read the book like A MONTH AGO and held off on the review because hello and now I can’t remember anything ** and 2) geez well hello if I start gushing you would be surprised how many people would run. Kind of like a Michelin Man with the body rolls crushing NY like a boss.

So anyhow, what is the moral of this miniature, terrible story***, you ask? The moral of this story is that as I have layered weeks on weeks of refusing to ever write this essay review and so now I have to remember everything I loved about this book WHICH IS SO HARD BECAUSE AGH OVERLOAD.

But back to the actual subject, yes?

The creativity in this book is mind-blowing–I mean, I’ve always wanted to write a book on parallel dimensions, or how Schwab puts it–‘layered worlds’–but I never would have crafted it so artfully as Schwab. I SIMPLY CANNOT SCREAM ENOUGH MY FRAND. There’s always been books about magic, which I love, you see, but there’s never been books so simply rawly about power. No more sorceresses, and witches/wizards, and magicians–stop copying Harry Potter–but instead Antari.

And BESIDES. Can I please APPLAUD for Schwab because, speaking of Antari, I CAN SAY IT AND REMEMBER IT. Now that takes talent. I’m saying this upfront, because I always loved to make up these clever little greek or latin-based words and then years later I would look back and hide and sob because hello shame.

SO BASICALLY PLEASE APPLAUD MY MARSHMALLOW FRENS.

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-07-07-pm*hint if you want to be a successful baker or atleast attract me
** what I have trouble remembering this url because its soo long (yes take whatever you will out of that HINT HINT HINT COUGH)
*** I lie. It was wonderful. The most wonderful you’ve heard in your life. Michelin Man.

the fantabulous kell and rhy who should have sailed

Yes, I was shipping Kell and Rhy right up until I realized they were brothers, and so ahem please don’t sob alone in your shoulder because here is pie and also–of course you did too do not lie I CAN SEE ALL. Well then. I’ll stop with all of the cringey grammar for the most part.

Fine, I admit they might not have worked as well as perhaps Rhy and Lila who I am die-hard shipping. Kell–well, I kind of don’t care about him having love because he’s got all this power and he’s clever and sarcastic and quick-witted and pie-loving enough to survive on his own. However, Rhy and Lila are not. It is their fault for being completely, totally ordinary human beings.

Kell is the only character I’ve ever gone without shipping with anyone. I mean, that is just MY PLACE HERE. I’m not a romantic personally, because in my life I just don’t do any kind of non-familial or friendly love, but I do like love stories.

And so.

Kell is just a different kind of character. Pie appreciation is there all the same and so I’m alright with him, but he’s just so unique. I mean, truly. Practically every character in YA now is a stereotype or copy off another. Kell is truly different–he doesn’t slobber after girls and he isn’t, you know, the good-est human being, but he definitely isn’t the worst. And besides, those kind of gray characters are EXACTLY my coffee plate.

And fine. Rhy.

He’s just–Rhys, but not. He has the name, minus one letter, and he has the dark hair. And what I love even more–personally I feel like the royal family of Red London is completely TOTALLY the most diverse, beautiful family of perfect people I’ve ever read about–besides the Weasleys. AND STILL. I feel like they’re kind of either maybe Spanish (not Hispanic, like literally from Spain) OR maybe they’re Middle Eastern, which I think is FAR more likely. I just love the feel of that Aryan/Persian character feel and since this was pulled off skillfully–what do I have to hate?

Rhy, I will give you my pie.screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-07-07-pm

 

lila bard the pirate (of which we need more of)

I love Lila because, well, she dreams of being a pirate and, well, PIRATES. How can you not like pirates.

And she’s a thief, but she’s righteous and strong and feminist and has a sense of morality. And she likes dark trench coats so basically what’s not to love.

I SHIP HER AND RHY. AND RHY. Rhy reminds me of Rhys and I’m in love with Rhys, so evidently I’d be in love with Rhy. Rhy reminds me of Rhys to a T. I mean, it not have been intentional and certainly wouldn’t have been as evident as the scent of pie in the cabinet in the kitchen when the dearest mother fam doesn’t want me gorging on all of the pie if their names didn’t match exactly. Well, almost. I mean, Rhy has the tan skin and the dark hair and the thing with the ladies–and that smile oml–and the dialogue oml–and the eyes oml–even though they aren’t purple like Rhys’ oml–i like eyes that are not purple and dark blue? WHAT.

But you already know all this.*

Lila Bard is the best female character next to Celaena Sardothien (not Aelin) and Hermione Granger that I’ve ever read. She’s another gray character so she’s fantabulous, but what’s more impressive than that spectacular piece of pie is this: I AM IN LOVE WITH LILA BARD.

Okay, I fall in love with male characters ALL THE TIME because I have absolutely no willpower**, but for me to fall in love with a girl character–not romantically, but still actual love, like what is between Jem and Will.

I’ve always held Hermione Granger high in the clouds and praised her and given her all the kinds of mental pie that can be conjured, and I’ve idolized her. I’ve nearly very much worshipped Katniss Everdeen because if there’s anyone that taught me that, yes, I can keep running because I am far more stronger than I think, it’s Katniss Everdeen.

But these two? They were never on the personal level of love.

I think I legitimately love Lila Bard so much because she is almost a copy of me, just in a different layer of the world***. She’s so morally pulled at, and unsteady, like me, but yet she still has a moral compass when she needs it. She’s not a paper thin character, though. She has done bad deeds, as have I, as have all of us.

But she has also done good deeds, like me, and like all of us. And she shows all of how much I hold dearly to gray characters. She is balanced and steady and strong and real, and that will never change.

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-07-07-pm*Yes and what’s more important is already know all this because I KNOW ALL I thought we covered this topic already
** except for when it comes to pie because if you take that from me willpower be gone I will pound you. Gently and lovingly tho because you are my favorite thing.
*** I have always believed in these things you know. I am her first shrine-creator and believer AND I WEAR THIS BADGE HONORABLY GOOD SERS.

 

the fast-moving plot and all the suspense because now as a result i trust no one and only rely on pie for survival as should you all

Simply put, this is entirely worth me only surviving on pie for the rest of my life*. This plot–I cannot even put it into words.

I’m entirely a fan of slow-moving plots. Now, slow-moving and boring are too different things. When faced with a fast-moving plot, usually I see too much of people just doing things, and I never actually connect with them. That’s exactly why I love TID so much. It’s slow-moving, detailed, and has a perfect balance of everything–thrill, suspense, action, and romance AND SHADOWHUNTERS AND FOOD AND FOOD.

So this fast-moving plot has completely erased everything I’ve worked so hard to compel you people to do–love a good slow book. IF IT IS A WORM AND IT IS A BORING WORM THEN I DO NOT WANT YOU TO LOVE A BORING WORM. But if the book is a worm, but it is an interesting, beautiful worm, then it is probably me, and you should probably love it or just give it a try and read it.

I love this book and, yes, this book is a fast-moving, no-regrets kind of book. It has not made me fall in love with fast-paced books, and it has not made me turn on slow-paced ones, but it has put its kind in a considerably better light.

The number one problem with fast-paced books is that they’re too skippy over the plot; most readers don’t digest everything the author has thrown at them. I WAS INVESTED IN THIS BOOK.

I BASICALLY THREW MY SOUL AT SCHWAB AND TOLD HER TO EAT IT.

I had invested heart and soul and peace of mind** for this book and even though it moved like a thunderbird***, I loved it with every bit of me. I just can’t explain it, because how do you explain falling in love with Rhysand? HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN FALLING IN LOVE WITH WILL HERONDALE OR LILA BARD. You can’t. It just happened.

And so with A Darker Shade of Magic, it just happened.

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*because is there anything better? I will answer that for you because I’m just so nice. The correct answer would be no, there is nothing better.
** all because I can never stop thinking about it so play a ukelele and restore peace of mind please
*** AHAHAHAA ILVERMORNY REFERENCE YES I AM CATCHING UP. Even though this is in my home country, I seem to be disappointingly remembering more Hogwarts than Ilvermorny. ALAS I MUST GET MY AMERICAN ILVERMORNY PRIDE UP. Do not deprive yourself of pie for this great tragedy, my dearest frens, I am catching up.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 11.25.43 PM.pngno emotional connection oh how heart-breaking

And this is it. This is all I have to say about this book. There is literally, in all ways–nothing terrible about it but this.

I do recall saying that I’m not devoted to fast-paced books or anything like that, but I do like them a bit better now because of A Darker Shade of Magic.

But anyhow, beside the point yet again, I said the primary reason as to why I dislike fast-paced books is because you never really connect and digest everything. And in a way, that’s what happened here. I know, I know, I said that I deeply loved this book in all its fast-moving-ness and would give up pie for it* because I really do love it, but it still had its flaws for me, personally.

It didn’t grab me emotionally. It didn’t wreck me, and I must be sadistic of the self-inflicted kind, because I love it when a book tortures me and I end up dying anyways because that was the only logical output all along. That is a good book. Like TID, for example. Those books made me shed tears like no other book has ever had.

I did not shed a single tear for A Darker Shade of Magic. No, I did not. I shed absolutely nothing. I shed not my Vulcanness. I shed not my pie**. I shed no screams or tears or sobs into my shoulder of misery.

It simply didn’t grab me, and at the end when Kell and Lila had their own little victory***, I felt simply happy, but nothing else. The villains were terrible villains and people (which is good) and I didn’t exactly love them. The protagonists were gray characters and I didn’t exactly hate them. They sustained a lot of injuries.

And yet, I sustained absolutely nothing.

But in the end, I still ended up loving this book like no other. Still.

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-07-07-pm*haha no what a joke
** even though you can’t shed it…?
*** their own little victory that SAVED THE WORLD

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On my honor as a cow and bookworm and pie addict, I would strongly advise you to read this book. A Darker Shade of Magic is a powerful book, firstly because it proves that a book can be good without lots of pie and that a book can be good without excessive making out.

Because I’m dead tired of this thing where right in the middle of grave battle in a moment of life or death–people choose to cradle each other and well, that’s the end of everything–obviously there’s no other choice let’s not even try to survive, we’re already basically dead so why waste a death being useless. DIE SMOOCHING PASSIONATELY.

But anyways. Remember this: when faced with life or death, snog. Even though HELLO THAT WAS NOT AN OPTION.

LIFE OR DEATH?

SNOG.

But anyhow, I would undoubtedly swear on pie that this book has joined the list of my absolute favorite books of all time. I mean, it is my first V.E. Schwab book but I’ve eaten pie quite a bit with fam before and so I know a lot of good things. This book was spectacular. Normally, I would be able to spot out my favorite character like that, but I just can’t choose with this book. They’re all so complex, and they all appeal to my tastes. Which means they obviously taste like pie. But that’s beside the point.

I’m just in love with this book, and there’s no other way to say it. It didn’t emotionally grab me but that’s probably because of the lack of romance. Shipping is my forte, and it is specifically where I reign, because I will ship everything shippable and ship it like nothing else. Rhy and Kell? Rhy and Lila? Rhy and Astrid? Rhy and the chair? Rhy and his dead guard?

ANYTHING ANYONE. THE BED FRAME AND KELL’S SEVERAL SIDED COAT.

BUT MOSTLY LILA AND KELL. I SHIP IT.

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I AM DEVOTED TO THIS BOOK! If only there was a bit more emotional reach-out and pie maybe I would have worshipped it.one-star-1screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-11-07-07-pm

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Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? Tell me ALL ABOUT IT. Who was your favorite character (yes I’m making you choose)? And simply, what made you read this book? Was it a recommendation by Goodreads or a living human people appreciate and care for, or was it random willpower like that as such that drives you to eat pie, etc.

And if you have not read it–you do know this review was completely spoiler-free (I think for the most part so yes I’m confirming that I’m agreeing with myself), so GO BACK AND READ IT, and perhaps you will like and perhaps you will despise the book so much you will never look at the cover and never read it.

Well that’s okay. Sort of.

ANYHOW. If you’ve read any book by Schwab, what is it, and would you recommend it? Because honestly, I’m hunting for other Schwab delicacies here. I NEED TO GET IN THE SCHWABIVERSE BECAUSE SO FAR I’M IN LOVEAnd of course, any other thoughts you would like to tell me too ❤ or if you just want to ramble about pie. I’m mostly here for that, you know. And books like this also.

But mostly the pie.

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4 thoughts on “How A Darker Shade of Magic Stole My Heart

  1. Damn. That love for A Darker Shade of Magic though. I honestly can’t wait to read this for myself. I have the impression that I’m going to really adore this series. I’ve read This Savage Song from Schwab (her first attempt in the YA world). That’s actually my first book from her and I reaaaaally enjoyed it. I couldn’t emphasize more how intelligent and well-written it was when I was writing its review a while back. Maybe you should try it out yourself! 😀 Great, great review!

    – Lashaan

    1. Haha thank youu 💜 I think you would definitely like the series. It’s just so PERFECT. I actually have the This Savage Song ebook and have just been so caught up with my TBR that I never got around to it. So I will definitely be reading that soon!
      ADSoM is such a great book! Now I know what people are talking about when they rave about Schwab. I can’t wait to see what you think 🙂

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