Tuesday, August 16, 2016

ADSOM Review

Hello All!

Now that the #PitchWars submission fever is winding down, I can now focus on reading for pleasure. Today is a review of V.E. Schwab's, A Darker Shade of Magic.

Unlike my previous book review, I won't be doing a star system. I’ll be writing this review based on what I enjoyed and who I think will also like this book. 

Blurb from Goodreads:
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.

I really enjoyed this book. It's the kind of book that I would love to write as it deals with a small cast of interesting characters in a vibrantly fantastical setting. The adult fantasy books I have read thus-far have a particular *flavor* to them (Name of the Wind, The Furies of Calderon etc.), and while I love them, I wondered if adult fantasy could take on a different pattern and still be considered good. 

ADSOM was that different good for me. 

There are four Londons, and each of them have distinctly different atmospheres and ambiances in regards to their relationship with magic. I enjoyed the fact that Schwab focuses on each London to the point where they come to life in their own ways, but still leaves me wondering “Well, what’s *beyond* the Londons? It feels epic in scale while being extremely focused in the style and type of information it gives to the reader. 

The characters had a lot of potential, which is something I loved right from the start. I think I fell in love with the idea of what these characters could have been, rather than the characters etched in the pages. But what I like most about the cast of characters is the fact that I didn’t like all the characters as people. 

Now I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but for me, if a book can have me feel strong feelings in any direction about a character (other than apathy, of course), they get a plus in my mind. For example, I don’t like Lila as a person, because she makes choices I wouldn’t agree with. But this disagreement makes her all the more alive to me as a character, because just like the real world, you can’t like everyone. She isn't perfect by any means, but she’s believable as a character given the world she inhabits. 

I’m over the moon about the fact that there are more books in this universe because the characters all have so much potential to be developed even further.

The plot is a slow-riser due to the world-building that needs to be set in place, but once it hits the action stride, it doesn’t let up until the end of the book. If you like gritty action coupled with emotional feels, you may like this book. That being said, the action is not epic, high-fantasy wars and countless battles. ADSOM takes a more personal approach, and I think it’s executed well.

Who will like this book: If you enjoy episodic tones in your story with characters who stick with you throughout a narrative, you may want to check this book out. And while there are no elves, dwarves, or huge family lineages to keep track of, this book is still very much a fantasy. Another interesting tidbit is the fact that a romance (if there even is one) is not a major plot point or subplot. I found this to be refreshing (although my mind did run away with itself in trying to ship all sorts of ships)

All in all, this book is going on my "must-buy" list. 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Comment below, or find me on Twitter.

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