You know when you pick up a new book and within the first paragraph you have bone-deep, unshakeable certainty you've found something that will beocme a new favourite?
Enter: A Darker Shade of Magic.
V.E. Schwab's second novel for adults (and my first experience reading) had me entranced from the first page.
"The first thing he did whenever he stepped out of one London and into another was take off the coat and turn it inside out once or twice (or even three times) until he found the side he needed."
A Darker Shade of Magic tells the story of four Londons— one like our own, one alive with magic, one ashy and decaying, and one consumed and forgotten. Kell, one of the last magicians to be able to travel between worlds acts as an ambassador for the royal family— until he stumbles into a trap and finds himself in possession of a forbidden and dangerous item from Black London— the world consumed by dark magic.
An impeccably crafted, richly woven and imaginative fantasy (a bit like the love-child of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora), A Darker Shade of Magic hits all my fantasy must haves: well-developed characters that are impossible not to root for (Kell, the quiet hero, and Delilah, the thief-and-aspiring-pirate I didn't know my life was missing), concise, evocative prose, and an immersive and unique setting. If parallel worlds get you hot, this book is for you.
Upon finishing this book after a couple of frigid winter days spent wrapped up indoors reading, I had a major book hangover— the fiction that followed seemed dull by comparison, and I wanted nothing more than to hunker down in Schwab's world(s?) a little longer (okay, maybe not White London so much). At this point I switched to non-fiction to stop my next fiction read suffering unfairly by comparison to its predecessor (if you're curious: The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England).
And that is not something I can say about too many other reads. A new fantasy favourite I look forward to reading again and again.
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