Due to a bathroom remodel, my husband and I slept in our front room, where all our bookcases are, and when we finally went back to our bedroom a stack of books was unearthed with A Darker Shade of Magic sitting on top. This book was my introduction to author Victoria (V.E.) Schwab, also known for the Monsters of Verity duology and Vicious. I devoured the story and highly praised it in a previous Cannonball. My TBR list is intimidating, so even though I often find comfort in re-reading, I’ve been making a conscious choice not to in favor of new books. A Darker Shade of Magic kept starting at me every time I walked in the front room. Then the CBR Bingo card was released and there on the lower left side is the square “I Love This” and suddenly I had an excuse to re-read the book!
The first time reading ADSoM I was swept away by the story, one stand out piece of which was the magic system. On this re-read, I focused a lot on the details of how magic worked and thought about writing this review through the lens of the magic system. However, since this attention caused me to be more particular about nailing down the details of how magic happened, it also left me with questions about how to specifically do things within the magic system. Ultimately, I decided that this was not the best route for the review. What I will say about the magic of ADSoM is that I loved the way that magic was a part of the world, almost like a living force, and flowed between the overlapping worlds. It was interesting how shutting a door between two worlds altered the amount of magic in the worlds, and thus shaped their character. The magic is creative and flexible, but only so much within the rule set, making for interesting usage in the book.
But more so than the magic, I deeply fell in love with Kell and Lila, and that was no different this time around. Kell and Lila have a lot of wanting things that seem out of reach and obstacles to face. Schwab quickly has you rooting for them, hoping they succeed, and sitting on the edge of your seat as you keep frantically reading to find out what happens next. Initially antagonists but when life throws them together they realize the worth of each other and begin that slippery slope down into romantic feelings. It’s a tale as old as time but when written as well as Schwab has, it is thoroughly engaging even if you know where certain beats will land. However, Schwab doesn’t give you the ending you want but it’s the ending that is needed for the characters.
V.E. (Victoria) Schwab become one of my favorite authors with the “Shade of Magic” series. I have relished all her other writing with the exception of her middle grade book City of Ghosts which I found to be “meh”. However, my fifth grader, and therefore part of the target audience, loved it and is looking forward to the sequel. With books in adult, YA and middle grade sections it’s easy to pick a book by Schwab to give as a gift to a reader in your life.