If I pick up a book that everyone seems to love, typically I love it too. I’m pretty easy to satisfy as far as books go. I think I’m decent at identifying good vs. bad writing, plot holes vs. perfectly executed plots, strong characters vs. weak characters. This comes with reading tons of good books and tons of bad books. One of the hardest things about reviewing books is having to say “It was great, but there was something missing. It just wasn’t a five star read”.
That seemed to happen the other day when I finished A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Her writing is fantastic. Her characters were well written and multi-dimensional. However, there was something that kept me from giving it five stars. One part of a five star book for me is one that I would pick up and read again, and I just don’t see it with this book. I feel awful saying that because this book was truly enjoyable.
Anyway, let’s get to my actual review!
This story is set in a world that consists of four Londons– Red, White, Grey and Black. Extremely confusing at first, by the author does a great job at easing you into it. However, the only people who are able to travel between these Londons are Antari, and our main character Kell is one of the only ones left. Kell is part of the royal family in Red London, which sounds fantastic in theory.
Except Kell’s favorite thing is to smuggle items between worlds, which is illegal.
Kell gets a lot of shit from the prince of Red London, Rhy, because they are extremely close and Rhy doesn’t want him getting into trouble. Rhy begs him to stop doing it. It isn’t long before Kell finds himself in trouble with White London. He has an object the Dane twins (rulers of White London) want, and they will do absolutely anything to get it back. Which includes harming Kell.
Along the way we bump into Lila, my favorite character in the book. Shes a young thief who is incredibly smart, cunning and bad ass. Her and Kell don’t exactly get along at first, but their friendship becomes one of my favorite parts of the story.
“And for the first time, Kell saw Lila. Not as she wanted to be, but as she was. A frightened, albeit clever, girl trying desperately to stay alive.”
I think part of the reason why this may have been a four star read for me is that I was shipping Kell and Lila so hard. There was zero romance in this book, and I’m finding that I like a least SOME romance in my five star reads. Some people love that this book didn’t include any crazy romance and that’s great!
The world building in this book was great. Like I mentioned earlier, I was really worried at the beginning because I was already lost 20 pages in. I like how small bits of background on the magic system were thrown in everywhere so you weren’t completely drowning in information.
The characters were great. I could picture everyone in my head and the fight scenes were also great.
I’m not 100% sure I’ll pick up the next book. If someone could let me know if we get more character background and a love interest I may entertain the idea haha. 🙂