A Darker Shade of Magic

 

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $25.96
Paperback $16
Hardback $15.46
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780765376459
9780765376466
9781466851375

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 4P

This book is so good. It deserves that 5Q its so well done, and the only reason that its a 4P is because I know there are people out there who don’t like Fantasy.

Readers Annotation

The balance between Londons is out of whack and only one man can save them all.

Summary

I don’t know if I can do this book any justice, and I really want to avoid the SPOILERS, so this will probably be a less detailed summary than usual. But for funzies here’s what V.E. Schwab had to say about her own book on Goodreads (which is super accurate tbh):

“–Magic

–Cross-dressing thieves

–(Aspiring) pirates

–Londons (plural)

–Sadistic kings (and queens)

–A royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness

–More magic (blood magic, elemental magic, bad magic, etc. etc.)

–Epic magicky fights scenes

–Angst!

–And coats with more than two sides”

So Kell is one of the only Antari left (magician, two different eyes, able to travel between worlds). He works for the Red throne (obvs in Red London). He bops between Red, White and Grey London giving messages from monarchs to other monarchs.

SPOILERS?!?!

So, Kell has this habit of bringing things from other worlds back to Red London (which he’s not supposed to do). Rhy finds out and yells at him. Kell lives in the Red castle with the royal family and is a “family member”…. but Kell knows he’s not really family (except to Rhy, who loves Kell to death and whom Kell would do anything). 

So Kell goes to White London, which is ruled by these creepy tyrants (the Dane twins) and their pet Antari Holland. They’re clearly up to something and after drugging Kell they convince him to take something with him to Red London.

This something turns out to be something from Black London (the London that went magic mad and tried to take over all the Londons… its supposed to be dead and gone).

Kell ends up in in Grey London, Lila steals the rock from Black London. Hijinks ensue, and assassins come for Lila and Kell. The two team up and Kell ends up taking Lila with him back to Red London. They split up, as Kell needs to talk to the royals about what the Danes are up to.

Turns out, the Danes have taken over Rhy’s body, Lila infiltrates a party and Kell tries to rescue his brother. Rhy dies, Kell freaks out and uses the Black rock to bind their lives together, giving life back to Rhy. The catch is that whatever happens to one of them will happen to the other. Kell doesn’t care, he needs his brother.

Kell and Lila go to White London to take on the Danes (and Holland).

Evaluation

Look guys, this is my new favorite book.

I heart this book with a passion. So much so that I bought the whole series in hard cover after I got through with this one.

This is the best.

I feel like I’ve said that before (coughtReadyPlayerOnecough), but this is my JAM!

Fantasy, Urban Fantasy (any Fantasy) is right in my wheelhouse. After finishing the (admittedly awesome) Readers Advisory class that started this blog, I knew I wanted to read something I KNEW I was going to love. This was on my list. It took forever to get to it (what with the whole graduating/final portfolio thing that was the first half of this year), but when I did… Whoo boy!

… Insert all the Fangirling here.

It is so hard for me to look at this book objectively. I just love it so much.

The characters are great. Kell is such a compelling lead. He is trying to maneuver through all this political drama, he has issues with his family, and then he picks up this thief. Speaking of the thief in question: Delilah Bard. Lila is my new favorite heroine. Her personal motto: you can’t have too many knives (after all, who knows how many bitches you may need to stab?). She’s a badass teenager with trust issues (from living on the streets) but she is such a witty girl. These two are a winning pair. Look, most of the focus is on them (character development-wise), at least in this book. But V.E. Schwab really gives you a feel for every other character in these two’s orbit. He wasn’t in it much, but I found myself echoing Kell in the feeling of: protect Rhy at all costs (oh my precious little bi baby… you’re too good for this world).

The three main worlds are completely different, and V.E. Schwab does a great job differentiating them. Grey London is so drab and magic-less and boring. Red London is bright and vibrant and full of magic. White London has that feeling of of the life draining from it (literally) and the people are just starting to go off the rails.

I don’t even remember what else I’m supposed to analyze, I’ll have to come back to this some day with a clearer head.

Point is this: if haven’t already, READ THIS BOOK!!!!!

Genre

Fantasy

Historical Fantasy

Readalikes

We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Significance

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Author’s website

V.E. Schwab

Awards

Library Journal Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

LibraryReads Favorites: 2015

Reviews

Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Booklist

Why I Chose It

This sounded like a really neat book with a premise right up my alley (plus it had a pretty sweet cover).

Other Information

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The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

girl-who-fell-from-the-sky

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $29.95
Paperback $9.34
Hardback $8.00
Kindle $8.87
Associated ISBNs 9781565126800
9781616200152 — Paperback
9781410427045 — Hardcover
9781851687459 — Paperback
9781616200374
9781448790708 — Glued Binding
9781565129627

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 3.5P

This is a 5Q because it is quite amazingly written, in a broken narative in several characters points of view.

It’s a 3.5 because I think that the material is hard to read, and that it will become more appealing over the next few years given the current state of race relations in the States.

Readers Annotation

She fell. Now she must learn how to live.

Summary

Follow the story of the girl who fell from the sky. Told through five different points of view centered around the tragedy of the family who fell from the sky.

Rachel has just moved in with her Grandmother in Seattle after her family fell off the roof of their apartment in Chicago. She is a mixed race girl, coming from a black serviceman and a white Danish girl. She must learn to negotiate a world where people are defined by the color of their skin, while learning to live with her Grandmother and aunt. Her Grandmother is a proud black woman, rich in faith. Her aunt is a proud black woman struggling after her divorce. Rachel must deal with black girl bullies, boys who will take advantage of her kind nature and the death of her aunt. After she is taken advantage of by a boy her Grandmother sends her to volunteer at the Salvation Army.

Brick is a boy when he sees the boy fall from the sky. He lies to the reporter who asks him if he saw anything and says he saw a man on the roof with the family who fell. He visits the girl who lived in the hospital. He bonds with her father in her hospital room. Her father gives him a message to tell her but she moves to Seattle before he can. He runs away from home to get to her and ends up on the street for a few years until he meets her at the Salvation Army.

Nella has left her husband and moved to Chicago with her boyfriend. She is trying to stay sober. She is finding out that things are different in the States than they are in Europe and that there are things she just can’t say.

Evaluation

This is the single most depressing book I’ve read. Here’s the thing about this book, it is incredibly depressing, and disheartening, but its also kind of beautiful. I cried at the end of it. It was very moving. Its a hard read, not because of language or length, but because the subject matter is so hard to stomach.

This was very effectively written, until the very end you were not sure of all the details pertaining to the Event that set the book in motion. I liked the non-linear construction and the switching points of view. The characters were well rounded. You could feel their pain through the story and could understand their motivations.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this an enjoyable read, I got no joy out of it, but it was a moving read.

This would work very well for its audience. Its an amazing story of actions and consequences, depression, and race. This would be a great book to give someone who would want to understand what it feels like to be displaced in the world.

I think a flaw is that it can be so hard to deal with the emotion that some people may need to walk away from the book, which would be a shame.

Genre

Coming-of-age, Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Readalikes

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

The Sea by John Banville

Significance

This book gives the unique perspective of a mixed race girl who was raised in Europe and then moves to the States. This move shows how different blacks are treated in Europe as compared to the states. This is one of the main struggles of the main character (Rachel).

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

How does the book portray race?

Why do you think Nella did what she did?

Do you think that Rachel will be able to live a happy life?

Author’s website

Hiedi W. Durrow

Awards

PEN/Bellwether Prize

Reviews

 

Why I Chose It

I wanted to read this book because it sounded like an interesting premise and a great commentary on race relations both in the United States and comparatively in Europe. It was also a serious Literary novel, and I’ve never really read Literary so I wanted to read one that sounded appealing.

Other Information