A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Rating: ✮✮✮✮ +½
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
The third book in this trilogy came out recently, and as I always do with popular series of any kind―including, most recently, BBC’s Sherlock―I wait until it’s almost completed before getting into it. It’s usually by accident, or because it’s shoved into my face―as A Conjuring of Light was, all over Goodreads―and since I’d read Vicious not that long ago, I thought the timing was perfect.
Oh, was it good. It was spectacular. Though its setting is historical, this book is pure fantasy, full of elemental magic, seals, and curses―though the concept is very unique. There is a great structure of the different Londons, the terms for magicians and their powers, and how their world came to be with the sealing off of the doors and Black London. I don’t have much experience with parallel universes, but I love the way they’re written in this book.
There’s plenty of death and heartache to keep me occupied―the crueler, the better―and not only that, but we have the perfect villains to simultaneously love and hate in the form of Athos and Astrid Dane.
“I’m going to let you keep your mind,” said Athos. “Do you know why?” The blade’s tip bit in, and Beloc gasped. “So I can watch the war play in your eyes every time your body obeys my will instead of yours.”
God, how I hated them―and yet I loved them, too, because they were written so well. V.E. Schwab has a knack for writing bad guys, not just in her adult novels, but in her young adult books as well. Vicious may not have been as gruesome as I’d have liked it to have been, but I’m not going to deny that V.E. Schwab writes my favorite villains.
And also, my favorite supporting characters. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I adored Rhy. He reminds me of Wesley from The Archived, and if this is a character type that Schwab plans to continue using for the rest of her novels, then sign me the hell up.
“A fine idea,” said Rhy. “But no. We must go out, you see, because we’re on a mission.”
“Oh?” asked Kell.
“Yes. Because unless you plan to wed me yourself―and don’t get me wrong, I think we’d make a dashing pair―I must try and find a mate.”
He’s flirty, funny, loyal, kind, probably bisexual, and I love him. He needs more screen time. I do love Kell―he’s charming and gentle, and he doesn’t even need to go out of his way to show it―and after a while, I did grow to love Lila, though I thought she was extremely reckless; but characters like Rhy need more appreciation. Cast away all of the brooding princes, the tall, the dark and the handsome. Give me a character that can make me laugh.
Ms. Schwab, I raise my glass to you. This book was fantastic, and I’m dying for more.