V.E. Schwab

REVIEW: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

a darker shade of magicKell is one of the last travellers, magicians with the ability to travel between parallel worlds connected by the city of London. There’s Grey London, a city without magic, Kell’s Red London where magic is respected and White London where magic fights against those who wish to control it. Once there was a place known as Black London but no one talks about what happened there. Kell finds trouble as he travels between the worlds, meeting thief Lila along the way and together they have to try and save all the connected worlds.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a very quick read thanks to the action and the writing style. Even the chapters and parts that the book is broken into are pretty short and allow you to read the story very quickly.

The characters in A Darker Shade of Magic are pretty cool. Kell has a lot of power and responsibility (and a really cool coat) but that doesn’t stop him from doing stupid and reckless things sometimes. Lila is the kind of character we’ve all wanted to be at some time. She’s a thief and looks after number one but she does it by being smart and by always being willing to learn. She is kind of that trope of “girl dresses up as a guy in order to progress in life” but I couldn’t bring myself to care that much. Kell and Lila make an odd team, they are complete polar-opposites in many ways but they still manage to work together.

The magical elements of A Darker Shade of Magic are great. It’s interesting to see the language used to make magic happen, or in some cases it’s all about the persons will and intent than saying any magic words. The way Kell travels between the London’s is interesting and how the different societies see and deal with magic is a great way to show how different the worlds are.

There’s a lot of mystery in A Darker Shade of Magic as both you as the reader and Kell try and figure out what he’s got himself into and who he can really trust. His interactions with Holland, another powerful traveller, were great because you could never really pinpoint what was exactly going on with Holland and if he was a good guy or a bad guy.

A Darker Shade of Magic is action-packed, full of magic and mystery and some interesting characters. It’s well worth checking out, especially as the sequel A Gathering of Shadows is released this month and I do think it’s best to go into this book knowing as little as possible. 4/5.

V is for: Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

DSC02305Vicious is about Victor and Eli – two friends in college who decide to build a thesis about how EO’s (Extraordinary people) get their powers. They experiment on each other but nothing goes entirely to plan. Fast forward ten years and while they are no longer friends, they each have an extraordinary power, and they each want to kill the other.

I really liked Vicious. I liked the way it was structured, there would be a chapter set in the present and then the next chapter would be set ten years earlier. So you have two stories running at the same time – the first is how Eli and Victor got their powers and the second is how they use them in their quest to confront each other. The chapters were also really quick reads and nearly every single one left me wanting to read more (even when I’d reached my stop on the bus)

I also liked how it is left up to the reader to figure out whose side you’re on because while they are both super-powered they are most definitely not superheroes. That being said, they each have clear motives for their actions so it is difficult to label one or both of them a super villain. I love some morally-ambiguous characters and there is that dilemma – is a person evil if they do a bad thing but for a good reason? That’s a question Vicious asks.

Besides from Eli and Victor (who are certainly interesting characters) you also have Serena who can be very persuasive, Sydney who is a wonderful young character – I sometimes think children in books can be annoying but she fit into the story perfectly and also acted perfectly believable when she ended up in dangerous situations – and Mitch who may be huge and scary-looking but defies all stereotypes. To be honest there wasn’t a character I didn’t like.

I love the world that is built in this novel and while Vicious is a standalone book I would definitely like to see more of the EO’s and their powers – which is something I don’t often say  as trilogys/series are a hell of a commitment. The action scenes are well written, really vivid and tense. Overall I loved pretty much everything about this book – especially the cover, just look at the awesome cover!

I give Vicious 5/5.