I haven't been able to stop thinking about these books since I finished them over a month ago. I wanted to review them but I figured it would pretty much just be me gushing all over the place about how great these books are. So I'm changing it up a bit and doing more of a book talk kind of thing, or at least attempting to. :)
So what books can't I stop thinking about.. well I'm sure you've heard plenty about them and if you haven't, then let me introduce you to..
A Gathering of Shadows both by V.E. Schwab (Also known as Victoria Schwab)
A Darker Shade of Magic tells the tale of:
Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London - dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George - to Red London - where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire - to White London - ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back - and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.
Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they'll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive - a feat trickier than they hoped.
Let's start with the characters..
These books are very character driven. I wasn't prepared to feel so much for these characters! Though, really, I shouldn't have been so surprised...I mean, they are written by Victoria Schwab. The character development is so great throughout the first book and continuing on into A Gathering of Shadows. I LOVED seeing the characters try their own things, and go on their adventures to find more about themselves. And the ships.. I just... I want them to sail off on smooth-sailing seas and be happy forever.
I really liked the range of relationships throughout the books as well. There's a relationship between Kell and Rhys, a brotherly relationship that was refreshing to see. A rivalry sort of relationship between Kell and Holland. A budding relationship of love between Kell and Lila. I also really liked seeing the relationship between Lila and the one person in her life that she is somewhat close to.
If you haven't read these, be prepared that these are more character driven than you might think. I have read some reviews that state how boring this book is, and it may have a slow beginning but it does pick up and it's worth sticking with just to get to know and love these characters.
The continuing growth throughout the second book had my heart growing and also being ripped apart. I also loved a few of the characters that were introduced in the second book, especially Alucard.
I can't forget about the world..
V. Schwab knows how to craft a fantastical world in such a way that will captivate you. She's incredibly original and so in depth with the world that it played like a movie in my head while I was reading. The magic system was completely original and I love that it was based on the elements. Elemental magic is my favorite kind of magic. The parallel worlds is such a cool concept that makes you wonder if something like this actually exists (hey, anything is possible, right?!)
I have to admit that after reading the synopsis I was a bit intimidated about all the different worlds. I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to follow along. I thought that I would get lost. And while it did take a while to learn the differences between the different Londons, I wasn't lost in the worlds at all, and it was much easier to catch on to the differences than I thought.
And of course, one of my favorite things, the writing..
V. Schwab is definitely a favorite author of mine. Not just because I have loved everything I've read by her, but also because her writing is just fantastic. There's a melody and flow to it that keeps you engaged in a way that's special. It makes you not only fall in love with the world, the characters but also the words that describe them and the sentences that they're mentioned it. I like to take my time when reading V's books because I want to savor every word. It's hard for me to describe exactly how much I love Victoria Schwab's writing but just know that it's fantastic and I hope you fall in love with her writing (and stories) as much as I do everytime I read one of her books.
After all that, I don't think it's any surprise to say that I gave both A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows 5 GLOWING STARS. I can't wait for the next book to come out, and I think that the cover reveal is coming the day that this post is going up so YAAAAY!!