Review + Read Along Experience for A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E Schwab

There is nothing quite like racing thumbs and smiling like an idiot during a Twitter chat. Only recently have I become (semi) vocal on social media, and I am so happy that I did. In the past few weeks on Twitter, Jamie over at Fiction Fare hosted an #ADSOMreadalong in preparation for A Gathing of Shadows coming out at the end of the month! In the spirit of getting involved, I joined in on the fun and tried to document my thoughts.

The Twitter Chat:

Hosted two Mondays in a row, the Twitter chat was crAZy. Unfortunately, both times I had to arrive late to the party and spent most of my time playing catch up, but: nothing compares to reading other people fangirl over something you loved. The bookish community has been so welcoming to me over the past few months, and it’s events like these that always remind me exactly why I wanted to be a part of the community in the first place. Learning how to speak up has been a bit of a challenge, I’ve never been that great at updating social media. I feel like there is slight pressure when it comes to always saying something witty on Twitter. I personally think I’m a hilarious person in real life, but translating that over the internet? My dad jokes make dad jokes. Similar to blogging, I just need to learn how to find my voice. Because I want to feel that kind of comradery again! Bookish community, don’t you ever change. You give me endless gifs and the best fanart, how I love thee.

The Book:

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As part of the #ADSOMreadalong, I picked A Darker Shade of Magic back up and started right where I left off during my initial read through months ago. I am SO pleased with myself for giving this one a second chance! It was witty, epic, and mind-blowingly whimsy. It boggles my mind how Schwab managed to weave together multiple dimensions, magic, dystopian + utopian society, endless action, and a dash of Sci-fi into one book. Once I had finished Saturday morning, I sat and thought for about an hour how it was possible that this idea managed to form in Schwab’s mind. What was her main inspiration? Did it just pop up in her mind one day like HELLOOO! Or did it start out as something else and completely morph into what we were given? I could go on and on, but I will save my questions for when she comes to San Fransico on tour *heart eye emoji* and report back with answers!

The Who?

How do I even begin to introduce these characters? Well, first there is Kell; antari magic wielding, cheek pinching inducing, sweet Kell. He is the main male protagonist in this novel. At first, it took me a while to warm up to him. I found his thoughts a bit confusing to follow, and his motives for doing things seemingly contradicting. The introduction of his adopted brother Rhy had me feeling all warm and fuzzy again – I mean how could you not blush while reading Rhy flirt – but something was still off. When I initially picked up this book last June, I got a little less than a third of the way through before I put it down. Looking back, I can’t quite figure out exactly why I was disinterested. It could have been Kell’s slow burn into my heart, or the complex world building that felt a bit heavy at the time – regardless of the reason, the other two-thirds of this are phenomenal. So phenomenal in fact, because we meet Lila. Lila is every badass chick you’ve ever wanted to be. She’s cut-throat, witty, and has killer trenchcoat style. She brought me back into the world of Grey London, and I felt myself cozy up to her instantly. I was pleasantly surprised with the level of diversity that Schwab created in her main characters. They have the perfect balance of chemistry and differing personalities, igniting an indestructible bond between them.

The What?

The entire concept behind antari magic and antari blood was my favorite element of this story. I love magic in all it’s many forms but this one was so imaginative! Everything from how magic was wielded, to the parameters of use was so unlike anything I have ever read before. Along with the magic, the language that everything was spoken in was just as interesting to read about. I so desperately hope we get to learn more about the magic system in the next installment!

The Where?

Grey, White, Red, and Black London. How you initially confused me so! Bringing it back to my earlier comment on possible reasons why I put this novel down the first time – the world Schwab creates is a doozy. Her writing style was very mature compared to the majority of YA I had read at the time. So, couple that with a complex world and I was feeling utterly lost. Once I got the hang of it – SO COOL. Made for some seriously unexpected twists and turns.

The Why?

The initial establishment of who was essentially running from who majorly kept me on my toes. Every new person that Kell would meet instantly became my number one suspect of betrayal. Once everything was finally laid out, I had not seen it coming! Beautifully executed motive by Schwab, and an even better possible motive set up for the plot of the rest of the series. I can’t quite say without giving anything away, but Schwab tied everything up in a perfect bow.

Why I Loved It:

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This story truly defines the word “epic.” In every way possible, I was thrilled by Schwab. Her writing style is to die for – you could pretty much stamp any of her words on a mug or t-shirt and I would be all over that – it’s mature, but in a way that sets the tone for the story. The “mature-ness” of the writing didn’t take away from the treasured YA qualities of the novel, it enhanced them. Her characters are complex, but not in the YA Trope kind of way. They felt real, like someone you might run into at the (magical)  grocery store. No abstract internal conflicts or reaching insta-love; only genuine authenticity. A Darker Shade of Magic is a YA epic like no other. From the action, magic, or snappy dialogue, Schwab includes a little something for everyone. This left me hungry for more stories in Red London, and a serious hankering for a black velvet trench coat. Well done Ms. Schwab, I cannot wait to read the next one!!

Thoughts?!

Have you ever mustered up the courage to participate in a Twitter chat? Have you read ADSOM? What did you think?? Let me know down in the comments or find me on Twitter @nerddelizzie 🙂

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