Book Review · Fantasy/Magical Realism · Young Adult Fiction

A Darker Shade of Magic

ADSoMbyVESAs you can probably tell from my recent posts, I’ve been really enjoying a lot of what I have been reading lately. Unfortunately, I seem to be in a bit of a reading slump now. Have I unknowingly raised my reading standards? Is it me or is it the books I have been trying to read? Whatever the case I did not enjoy A Darker Shade of Magic nearly as much as I wanted to.

There are four different Londons. There is Grey London without magic, Red London with some magic, White London where magic is addictive and controlling, and Black London where magic got so out of hand that no one goes there any more. Kell hails from Red London, and he is one of the few people able to travel between all of the Londons. Kell is a message-runner and sometimes a smuggler. His smuggling gets him into some trouble when he gets his hands on an artifact from Black London. Along the way he meets Lila Bard, a thief who robs him, saves him, and convinces him to take her to on an adventure to the others Londons.

This series has a good bit of hype around it, and it just sounds really unique and interesting. And it was, for the most part. It just did not click with me. The premise sounds great, but the execution did not quite work. It all seemed a bit shallow to me. From my understanding, the author writes both young adult and adult books. Her YA novels are usually under the name Victoria Schwab while her adult novels are published under V.E. Schwab. However, A Darker Shade of Magic felt very YA to me. I am not sure if the series gets “more adult” later, but the first book felt like a rather shallow YA novel. I did not connect with Kell or Lila, and the side characters were dull. The villains did not feel very developed. The were evil, power hungry, and that was about it. The setting, which was what drew me in, felt underdeveloped. I am sure there will be more world building later in the series, but since I disliked most other aspects of the first novel, I doubt I will continue the series. The book as a whole felt like lost potential.

After seeing so many people rave about the series, I feel like I jread a completely different book. This is likely a “it’s not you, it’s me” moment, but if your tastes are similar to mine, you might also be disappointed by this fantasy title.

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