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 Plumed Bonnet

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook
Paperback $7.43
Hardback $13.54
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9780451190512

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

Its a Regency Romance, not everyone wants to read that. That’s why its a 3P.

Its a 4Q because its a pretty well written Regency Romance, but entirely predictable.

Readers Annotation

A case of mistaken identity leads to marriage, but can it lead to love?

Summary

Stephanie Gray has just found out that her grandfather left his estate to her. She left her job as a governess to travel to the estate to claim her inheritance but it robbed. She tries to walk the remainder of the journey, but keeps trying to hitch hike. She is wearing an atrocious hat of plumed pink, purple and fushia feathers, and a similarly colored cloak. The Duke of Bridgewater is intrigued by her and allows her to ride in his carriage to the next town. He asks about her life and finds her story to be unbelievable and gets it in his head that she is a great actress and whore. He attempts to bed her the first night but she rebukes him. Stephanie just thinks he’s being nice, but he’s trying to catch her in a lie and then take her as his mistress.

When they arrive at Stephanie’s new estate, the Duke realizes he was totally wrong and that bringing her here has impuned her honor and thusly asks to marry her. Stephanie agrees, though she is stunned to find that he is in fact a Duke. They will be married a month hence.

A week later they meet again in London with his mother, sisters and sisters in-law. They think that Stephanie is a social disaster, so the Duchess of Bridgewater makes it her mission to turn Stephanie into a Duchess in a week. Stephanie gets a new wardobe, and lessons in how to act. These lessons are put to the task after the week at a ball in honor of the Duke and Stephanie’s betrothal.

Stephanie feels completely out of place in this new world she finds herself in, and feels like she’s losing herself. After an amorous encounter with the Duke at the ball and his unfortunate mistake of calling her a whore, she becomes withdrawn and becomes the perfect Duchess for him. He starts to notice that she is not herself around him.

They marry. He confesses to what he thought of her when they first met and their marriage is strained. Stephanie still tries to conceive a child with him, but is not sure she wants to stay. The Duke tries to win her over. They fall in love at the May fair and live happily ever after.

Evaluation

It was surprisingly good. Considering it is every regency trope, it played on a few of the ideas. I liked that Stephanie struggled with her dualing personalities and the Duke’s crisis of conscious. I think they worked up to them falling in love pretty well, though it did seem a little sudden. Stephanie was by far the better, and more rounded character, but the Duke was pretty deep as well. You could see how they were both struggling with the situation they ended up in. The characters really came to life, and the life of the ton was very vivid. The carriage ride to the estate and the home at his estate weren’t as vivid as the ton.

I think romance readers would love it. Its all the tropes, and some steam. But, I would be cautious because there are some triggery elements, and it isn’t all happiness and roses, the characters really suffer in this one. I really enjoyed myself, and I really related to Stephanie’s problem of needing to be one person to be correct for society being in complete dissonance to her true self.

A flaw with this book would be the quick timeline, and the slightly unbelievable time that they fell in love with each other (it would have worked better a little later than it actually happened).

Genre

Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Readalikes

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

Impetous Innocent by Stephanie Laurens

Significance

I think the significance of this book was the almost sobering look at shotgun marriages to people you don’t know. It was also really well done for a Regency.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Did the Duke really need to ask for Stephanie’s hand in marriage?

Discuss Stephanie’s struggle with her identity.

Did the Duke deserve a second chance?

Author’s website

Mary Balogh

Awards

 

Reviews

 

Why I Chose It

I chose this because it sounded like one of the most cliche romance novels I could pick up. I wanted to see if it was going to be as ridiculous as I thought it would be.

Other Information