Friday, April 13, 2018

Shades of Magic by V. E. Schwab

In this whirlwind year of reading, I finally picked up a book by V. E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab) and discovered one of the best series I’ve ever read. Shades of Magic is a three part series with titles A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light. It will be (sort of) continued with a new series by Schwab called Threads of Power, though that series will focus on new characters, with the Shades of Magic characters in the background. Thus far I’ve read the first two books, with the third one high up on my to-read list.

Shades of Magic focuses on parallel Londons…Grey, Red, White and Black. Grey London is our magicless version of London, and home to main character Lila. Red London is a thriving, vibrant, magic-filled London, home to main character Kell. White London also has magic, but is more controlled and suffocated by magic than supported by it, and is under the dictatorship of two evil twins. Black London no longer exists, long ago destroyed by magic.

Kell is one of two remaining Antari: magic individuals who can cross between the twin Londons. In A Darker Shade of Magic, a mysterious encounter in White London puts him in possession of a piece of Black London, long thought to be gone. With the help of lone pirate/thief Lila, it is up to Kell to save the remaining worlds from the magic that destroyed Black London. A Gathering of Shadows continues that story, but also throws a Red London magic competition in the mix.

As an avid fantasy reader, this series has some of the best world-building and characters of any I’ve read. It’s fun, dark, unique, and definitely worth the read for fantasy readers and non-fantasy readers alike. For similar reads, try Schwab’s ultradark monster dystopian series Monsters of Verity or Leigh Bardugo’s magical heist duology Six of Crows.

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