A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Book Review

A Darker Shade of Magic

Rating: 3/5 Stars


Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

My Review:

I think this book fell victim to high expectations going into it after all the hype about it on Booktube and Bookstagram.  I was looking forward to reading it.  If it is about magic it will quickly be on my TBR.  The problem for me was quickly apparent when I realized that while this book is about magic, I did not find it very magical.

There are four parallel worlds which are very different from one another with one exception.  They all have a city called London and all the London’s have similar geography and places although everything has different names in each one.  The four Londons (Black London, Grey London, White London and Red London) used to be connected by “doors”, or passage ways, but they have been closed and now only Antari, blood magicians, can travel between the four worlds carrying messages to the different royalty.  I am still trying to figure out why these messages needed to be delivered since they really didn’t serve any specific purpose.

Kell is a young Antari, and only one of two Antari who still exist after magic became out of control and destroyed Black London.  He was raised by the royal family alongside the prince since the age of five.  Kell has no memory of his life before then and does not know where he came from.  This is explained but not explored in the book.  Maybe it will come into play in one of the sequels.  Kell travels to Grey London (the London we know) during the reign of Mad King George and it is during one of his trips that he encounters Delilah Bard, a young woman living on the streets and a cut-throat thief.  She plays a large part in the storyline and brings a breath of fresh air to the book.

I found myself trying to get through the book.  When this happens I tend to not want to finish a book but I did.  The first three quarters of the book were slow going but the last quarter really picked up with a lot of suspense and action.  Delilah definitely added to the interest of the book.  She was an interesting and plucky character and I enjoyed her the most.

V.E. Schwab writes well and I had no problem with her writing style.  I just wasn’t hooked on the story line and never became completely invested in Kell who is the lead character.  He was a little bland for a hero.  I know there are other books in this series but I don’t know if I need to find out what happens next.  Maybe one day I will pick up the second book, but not right now.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – Book Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Rating: 4/5 stars


When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

My Review:

A Court of Thorns and Roses is very much a Beauty and the Beast re-telling with a very strong Young Adult vibe.  Being that I am quite caught up in the current Beauty and The Beast Live Action craze, I was really looking forward to reading this book.  Prior to this book, the only other Sarah J. Maas book that I have read was Throne of Glass.  I liked that book but I liked this book much better.

Feyre is our heroine.  She and her family are struggling to get by and rely on Feyre’s hunting skills.  It is on one of her treks into the forest that she comes across a humongous wolf who she suspects to be faerie.  Faerie are dangerous and Feyre doesn’t hesitate to kill and skin it for its pelt.  Little does she know how this action will change the course of her life.

Where in the original Beauty and the Beast, Beauty winds up with the Beast because of her father pilfering a rose, in this story Feyre winds up with her beast/faerie as a result of killing the wolf.  I liked the story line and the introduction of the Fae world and Feyre’s relationship with her captor, Tamlin.  There is a lot of magic and faeries and conflict.  Feyre is a typical YA heroine who has to go through hideous trials and tribulations to save the day.  I like YA novels for their fantasy and world building, but I still haven’t been won over by the assassin/kick-ass heroines who have to go through such torturous physical pain in order to be victorious.  I still like a good, old-fashioned fairy tale ending with no broken bones.

That said, I do actually look forward to reading the next book in this series.


April 2017 TBR

TBR April 2017.jpg

My TBR list is quite extensive.  Picking which books to read next is always a tough choice.  Do I pick new releases?  Oldies that I have never read?  I feel that the books I chose for April are good choices, but also ambitious ones since I am a slow reader.  Trying to fit in all these books into one month may be too much, but I am going to give it a try.  I feel that putting it into writing will hold me accountable!

The following are descriptions from Amazon.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Sometimes, when you open the door to the past, what you confront is your destiny.

Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of gothic strangeness — featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess,a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

Mistborn by  Brandon Sanderson

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

This saga dares to ask a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails?