A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | Book Review

Hi everyone! Does anyone happen to have some chocolate on hand? Because we must celebrate!! Why, you ask? THIS BOOK, is why. (!!!!!!!!!—yes, let us put ALL the exclamation points) This book is so amazingly amazing and I’m asking myself why I waited so long to read it??! So many people have been screeching in my ear to read this, and I’m so thankful I finally did!! If I had missed out on this book… I don’t even want to think about that because it would be too terrible.

Alright, for further rambling fangirling nonsense detail, read on!

A Darker Shade of MagicA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

5 Stars

Publication Date: February 24th 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adult
Series Status: Shades of Magic #1
Page Count: 398
Source & Format: Owned, ebook + Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby 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 another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

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Erm, I might have to warn you here; I probably will not make any sense whatsoever—but then again, what else is new, right?? I don’t even know how to form proper words right now, ahem. So I’m going to be a list-but-not-really-type review–and hope it makes sense. Here we go!

A Darker Shade of Magic book review

Reasons why you should read ADSOM

  • So much blood. And stabbing! And many near-deaths, might I add. (Notice how this is the first thing I mention, aha I’m totally not crazy or psychotic, psh.) Though, I must say. It. Was. AWESOME. I mean, tension! Conflict! Danger! So much was going on, and then in the midst of it, of course you had to have some blood and, of course, stabbing (omg so much stabbing). I don’t think the descriptions were too graphic, though, so if you’re easily squeamish about these things, you should probably be fine.. then again, I read all of this so quickly I probably didn’t bat and eye so I guess I’m not the best consultant for that. But still. You should be fine. Point is: there was no holding back on the pain in this book! If that’s something you don’t mind, well, this is perfect.
  • The world is made of ALTERNATE LONDONS. That is Analee-approved right there. If you didn’t know already, I’m kind of mildly obsessed with London?? Or England in general, but LONDON. ❤ And so a book where we have alternate Londons is.. simply perfect? (Though tbh it could’ve been ANY country that isn’t in North America and I would’ve been fine–erm, I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of different countries so.)
  • Which brings me to how the world-building was so perfectly perfect. Or maybe that’s just me blinded by how amazing this book was, but really, apart from the few parts where I was kind of lost as to how it all worked (which was mostly my fault for being slow at grasping things, I think), the world in this book was so intricate and so finely done. Eep, my praise is endless. It was just so easy to fall into this world V.E. Schwab created, and I loved it.
  • KELL. My love. Not to mention HIS COAT, omg it’s so fabulous. XD I want one! Ah, yes, right, we were talking about Kell. Right. Kell is just as fabulous, of course! Such a great mix of the tragic, gloomy hero-yet-not, as well as very flawed, but so lovable. Oh, and his comebacks were just on point? Three cheers for sass, guys! It was so easy for me to love his character, eep.
  • Lila will most probably become one of your favourite characters? Maybe. I mean, I can’t say this was the case for me exactly (I did like her, don’t get me wrong, but it took me some time to warm up to her? More on that below.) but she had so many of the characteristics I (and most other people) love, so yay! (Erm, I doubt I’ve ever came across a thief with aspirations of being a pirate, sooo.)
  • Rhy: Charming. dashing and sassy, all in one! I loved Rhy, really. I only wish he appeared more in the story! I loved his and Kell’s brotherly relationship and his character. ❤
  • Holland was just such a well-written character! He did such terrible things and I hated him, but at the same time I found myself sympathizing with him? Ah, the conflict. Morally ambiguous characters are the best aha.
  • SO MUCH SASS. From Kell and Lila, but also from other characters too—and it was amazing. 😀 I had so much fun reading the banter and all the snarky comebacks tossed back and forth!
  • The magical coat (with lots of sides and pockets) is soo perfect. It was literally making me jealous. I want ittttttt (yes, I know I already said that before). And yes, that’s a valid reason as to why you should read this book. Because of a magical coat, yep. Why are you questioning this?
  • The writing was SO PERFECT. Concise and specific yet detailed—and not info-dumpy whatsoever (or if it was, it sure didn’t feel like it).  The descriptions, the world, everything seemed to come alive due to the fantastic writing, so I LOVE IT. Definitely making me want to pick up more of Victoria Schwab’s novels! ❤

The itty-bitty-little things you might want to be aware of

  • It takes a while to really get the story in motion. I don’t blame it, and truthfully it didn’t bother me that much because I hardly noticed, but depending on the type of reader you are, you might get impatient with the pace of the story! I assure you, it’s totally worth it to keep going with the novel, because it progresses really quickly once you get into the story.
  • Lila, although a good character, wasn’t someone I loved right away. I wasn’t the biggest fan of her at first? I mean, she’s totally a character I tend to enjoy (sass? check. stubborn? check. rebel?–well, thief, actually–check.) but it actually took me some time to actually like her? At best I tolerated her during the first few parts. The thing is, I can’t even pinpoint what made me feel this way? Argh. But like I mentioned above, I warmed up to her well enough by the end of the book. So that’s good!
  • Rhy doesn’t get as much spotlight as I wished. 😦 I loved his character and he did appear many times, but it didn’t feel like that much? Or at least not as much as I would’ve liked. I dunno. Maybe that’s just me. I just wouldn’t have minded seeing more of him, haha.

Overall…

This book is completely worth your time and commitment, I tell you. The hype around this one most definitely did not disappoint (for me, at least) and I’m 98% sure that most people would agree with me when I say this book is amazing. Great writing, great world, lots of stabbing, amazing characters and lots of sass–what more could you ask for, am I right? So better go gobble this up soon if you haven’t already! 😉


Umm, I think that’s it?? Basically, I loved this book. It was just so good. (Again, we must get chocolate to celebrate this amazing novel!) It had so many amazing components to it that I loved, and I definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a fantasy novel with great world-building and amazing writing (and everything else, really)!

I’m kind of sad I didn’t read this sooner, but I’m kind of glad because now I have the chance to go straight away to A Gathering of Shadows! I would’ve started it already, but I wanted to write up my review of the first book before I read it, so now that I’ve done that, I will most definitely be continuing with AGOS. So excited!

Alright, now tell me what YOU think! Have you read this book? What did you love? What did you dislike? Am I the only one who liked the stabbing? XD And I sure hope I’m not the only one who took time warming up to Lila, aha. Oh, and would anyone like to give me a magical multi-sided coat? Seriously, someone needs to make this happen. I’d totally buy one. If you haven’t read this book yet, let me know what you think! Do you plan on reading it? What are you looking forward to the most? Is there other London-obsessed people out there? (If so, you should definitely read this book. Just sayin’.) Leave your thoughts below, I’d love to chat! ❤
Until the Next Meal, Analee

Do Reviews Sway Your Opinion Before or After You Read a Book? | Book Snacks Babbles

BSB Description

The first discussion of March! Welcome, bookish chocolate bars. Welcome. I had been thinking of doing another blogger-related post, but since I’ve already been doing several blogger-related posts, I decided to change things up and bring out more of our bookwormishness (yes, that’s a word now) with this post. 😉

So, from my title, you obviously know what this post is about, which is: Do you let reviews sway your opinion before or after you read a book? (Lol. Yes, I know, I state the obvious. Your point is?) As part of the book blogging community, most of us, if not all, sometimes or often reads reviews of either books they’ve read, books they’re anticipating, or just a plain book they’ve never heard of. Right? Most plainly put, often reviews are to help the readers reading the review decide whether they want to read a book or not. And if a person has already read the book, well, then it’s because they want to see what the other person has thought about it.

But does reading these reviews affect our opinion, when we’ve already read the book or have yet to read it? Let’s babble!

Reading Reviews Before or After You Read a Book

‘Before’ Scenarios

Reading a positive review on a book we haven’t read

This usually leads to: building up hype and personal expectations. Obviously. Oftentimes this is the case, when I read a review on a book that either has yet to be released, or simply a book I haven’t read. Lately it’s usually the former that occurs most often for me? Though the latter occurs too. It’s kind of natural, when I read a glowing review talking about all the things this person liked in the book, all the amazing things that are all things I love to read about… well, it’s just something that happens subonciously, sometimes for me; I’m intrigued, and as I read more reviews on this book sharing these positive sentiments, I have expectations set! Behold, the power of the hype.

But you already know that, of course—I’d bet most of you can agree that you’ve felt this way before as well! 😉 This, in turn usually ends up going at least one of these two ways:

1. Having super high expectations…that ARE met.

Ahh, this is one of the most satisfying feelings, to be honest. When you have really high expectations of a book, and they actually met them (or even, surpassed them), it’s just SO AMAZING. Seriously, it’s just so nice and comforting to know that there are books that actually can live up to the awesomeness you build up in your head, especially when you think they won’t. Most of the time, having such high expectations leads to disappointment, which brings us to the next possibility (which isn’t so amazing):

2. Having super high expectations… that AREN’T met.

While the above one is absolutely amazing, this one is terrible, really! After having such an awesome idea of the book in your head, having to find that the book doesn’t meet this expectations at all really sucks. Believe me, I know. Even though you know it was a possibility, seeing how having such high expectations definitely makes it hard for books to meet them, you’re still super disappointed, you know? Or at least I am. *SIGH* (Reawakened, I’m looking at you. You could’ve been so much better, gah.)

Eeep, I’m rambling again. Basically my point is: reading a positive review on a book we haven’t read can be both great and dangerous! I guess it all comes down to hype, and expectations, really. Wicked things, our expectations. (Why does that sound like it should be said with a British accent??)

Reading a negative review on a book we haven’t read

This kind of goes the opposite of the above, really! Especially if we read several negative reviews on one book. It creates expectations, for sure… though, let’s just say they’re not that high. For me, personally, I have to say I tend to add many books-with-bad-reviews on my TBR, though oftentimes I don’t actually prioritize them? Well, I don’t prioritize them at all, really. Which isn’t actually a good thing, because, hey. Maybe it’ll end up being a book I like a lot more than the person who didn’t like it, right? But if I don’t really prioritize it, chances are I won’t be getting to it soon. Obviously. Though maybe it’ll be someday?

However, sometimes what happens is that I forego putting the book on my TBR at all, which, although basically leads to the same result as the first, just shows I don’t even really consider the thought of reading it. This doesn’t happen to me often, but I’m sure it happens a lot more for other people, perhaps? Again, it’s not a good thing either way—but what to do? Just like reading a positive review created high expectations, reading a negative review might lead to low expectations—or foregoing the book completely. :/

‘After’ Scenarios

Reading a negative review on a book we loved

Soo the other day I was eating chocolate—of course—and reading a review of Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, which happened to be a book I loved. The review, however didn’t share my sentiments—in fact it was the complete opposite. Let me get this clear: I, LOVE reading negative reviews. They’re always so interesting to read! And I’m not saying it wasn’t the case for this book, believe me, it was. Interesting to read, that is. But as I read it, (what later became the inspiration of this post, actually) it made me re-think of all the things I previously praised.. that this person is suddenly pointing out as a flaw.

And I’m not trying to say this was a bad thing. I mean, it’s great to see a new perspective on something, especially a book we’ve read. But at the same time… this wasn’t necessarily a good thing? At the back of my head, yes, of course I was intrigued on finding a perspective so different from mine, but first and foremost I was subconsciously picking out all the flaws in a book I previously loved. So. Kind of awkward. I guess it’s kind of similar to falling out of love with a book, or at least close, because really, if it’s possible for us to start concentrating on flaws of a book that we previously ignored, then what’s stopping us from changing our minds completely based on these newly found flaws? Right? It’s something to keep in mind, at least.

Reading a positive review on a book we hated

In theory, it makes sense why this scenario would result in us falling in love with said book. Seeing how it seems possible to fall out of love with a book based on a review, the opposite would be true, right? But to be honest, I kind of feel like in practice, this wouldn’t actually work out? I mean, if you go searching for reviews hoping to suddenly fall in love with a book (that you disliked before), it’s almost 100% assured that it won’t work. But even if you read a glowing review on a book you disliked, just, you know, by chance, I feel like it would be much harder for it to sway your opinion? (Sorry for all the question marks, I’m really just going by ear on this. I’m kind of totally rambling here, soo. Please bear with me!)

I don’t know. I’ve never actually fallen in love with a book I hated by reading a review, so maybe it’s that which is affecting my opinion on this. But correct me if I’m wrong; I feel like it might be easier to fall out of love with a book based on a review rather than falling back into love? Maybe it’s because for the former, we’re already aware, when we’re in love with a book, that it DOES have flaws, no matter how much we end up sugarcoating them, so when we read a review pointing out these flaws, well.. it’s more easier to be swayed, you know? For the latter, we’ve picked out all the flaws already so we’re less likely to be swayed by a glowing review when we already hated all or most of the things praised in the review, I guess. Lol.

Last minute babbling…

I think I’m going to have to say a yes for this one! You know me, I usually make no sense whatsoever throughout the whole post, and can’t always come to a firm conclusion, but for this, definitely yes. It may be a positive sway, or it might be negative, but I definitely think it’s possible for a review to sway and influence our opinions, before or after we read a book! Whether this is a good thing or not is almost always determined by the situation. It’s too bad though if reading a review before or after we read the book turns out to be not in our favour! :/


Alright, so I think I’ve ran out of steam for now! Obviously I must re-energize on chocolate, yes yes. So I’m going to be heading this over to you guys! Tell me some of your thoughts on this, I’d love to chat. Have you ever fallen into a situation where you fell out of love with a book based on a review? Or, have you fallen BACK into love with a book, based on a review? What do you think of reading reviews before you read a book? Good or bad? Do you forego books with negative reviews? What are some books that met your super high expectations? What are some that disappointed you? Whoo, that’s a lot of questions. But I’d love to know your thoughts, so feel free to ramble! Heaven knows I did, in this post. (I hope it all made sense, lol.)
Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend! ❤

Until the Next Meal, Analee