A Slightly Different Review : A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by VE Schwab

Today is a slightly different format for a review.   This is my second buddy read with Mayri at the Bookforager blog.  If you haven’t visited Mayri before I heartily recommend you do so, she’s a wonderful blogger. Our first buddy read was Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.

Slight spoiler alert – this didn’t really work out as well as we both hoped.  It’s a good book for sure and probably a few years ago I would have adored this but at this stage we probably won’t continue with the series but will instead look for a new book to start.  Read below for our thoughts.

We decided to post our review during Wyrd and Wonder the details of which can be found here.  This is a celebration of fantasy  It’s a fantastic event and it’s never too late to join in the fun.

W&W

Similar to our last buddy read this review will take the form of our chat back and forth.  This time round Mayri is posting the opening chapters and I will be going with the conclusion – so, ideally you might want to step away and go read Mayri’s post before continuing to read on.   

Also, before I start, I would mention that given the nature of our ongoing conversation during our read this post will contain spoilers so if you’re planning on reading this book you might want to avoid both posts.

Mayri has posted our conversation for week 1 and 2.  The conversation below follows weeks 3 and 4:

A Darker Shade final for IreneWeek 3 – Chapters 9-11

Mayri : Is it just me, or did the pace just kick up a notch? I even wrote down the page number (page 261) where I felt things started to get … not interesting, it’s been interesting from the beginning, but … more urgent, I guess. Like the vague threat of what the black stone can do suddenly became immediate. What do you think, Lynn?  

Lynn : The pace definitely picked up in fact when I read this section I almost pressed on because I felt like I was finally getting into the stride of things.  I didn’t though, I showed massive restraint! 

Mayri : (I’m so proud of you!) I was wondering when the Dane twins were going to rear their heads again, but wasn’t expecting Astrid to turn up inside Rhy! That was pretty cool. 

Lynn : Oh yes, I definitely didn’t see that coming.  What a surprise.  I think the only downside that I felt about that was if it’s really so easy to infiltrate a member of the royal family then that really isn’t very good.  In fact anybody could be taken over and manipulated.  But yes, such a shock – and I do like a good shock.

Mayri : Good point. Why haven’t they guarded against this possibility? They know about magic, so they know what can be done with it…

And I’m not sure that the magic in the stone is going to be wield-able. I’m pretty sure it’s got its own ideas. I really like the way it’s growing itself now it’s found people with more magic in them to burn. 

Lynn : Yes, that stone is pretty scary and quite tricksey too.  Is it just me or does it seem to be finding itself more ‘capable’  bodies to take over.  The last chapters definitely make me think that the stone poses a greater threat than I first suspected.  I wonder what will happen if Kell and Lila manage to take the stone back.  Will it’s presence fade then from the other Londons or will it keep on growing in strength.

Mayri : Good question. It’s interesting how power seems to be distributed differently across the Londons. I liked the description of the people of Grey London as only having a candle’s worth of life in them. And I think we’ve now got a pretty good idea of what happened to Black London, if not why. I’d like to know how the magic got the way it is now – sentient and hungry. 

Lynn : Yes, why did the magic change.  This black stone is certainly very hungry and incredibly willful!

Mayri : And Lila. She definitely remains the more interesting of the two. I love that she recognises the cunning of the stone. 

Lynn : Yep, I like Lila.  I mean, to be fair, I don’t dislike Kell but considering how much he knows and his experience he comes across as a little naive in some respects and you just can’t help thinking that he’s really put his foot in it.

Mayri : Definitely. I still find Kell bland, even this far in and think Lila makes the more compelling character. I love when she gets to dress up! That was awesome! I can picture her in her horned mask – what a badass look! 

Lynn : It was a good scene and I loved her choice of outfit. She’s very calm in most situations isn’t she, even managing to swipe an invitation for herself. I had a horrible sort of dread that the young ladies she took the invite from would figure it out and be lying in wait. You have to admire her too. Walking into this elaborate, royal party, on her own, and with no real qualms. Go Lila.

Mayri : Yeah, go Lila! 

 

Week 4 – Chapters 12-14

Mayri : Man, I still don’t really know how to feel about this story! On the one hand, I love the four Londons, I love Lila, and I was fascinated by Holland and what had been done to him. But on the other, I feel it’s been an uneven ride, slow to start and now, in this last section, all in a hurry to finish. Holland is vanquished like that *snaps fingers* when I wanted so much more from him. Rhy dies, but oh, nope, it’s OK, Kell’s done a spell. And Athos and Astrid never quite got the room or time to make their menace truly felt before Kell and Lila defeated them, (although they’ve definitely left an impression).

I sound like a right moaning min, I know, but my overall feeling is one of disappointment. There were a lot of promising ideas that didn’t ever get off the ground. And I don’t know if I can be bothered to read on. The only story I want more from is Lila’s …

Perhaps I feel this way though because we weren’t grabbed from the beginning, and so we never gained any momentum?

Thoughts?

Lynn : To be honest I couldn’t agree more.  Like you say, on the one hand there were so many promising ideas and people and yet on the other I feel like they weren’t given a fair shot somehow or just failed to reach their potential.  All the threats that loomed were easily defeated and the twins were definitely a disappointment. And I can’t help wonder why Holland had to die?  It just seemed such a shame.  I do like Lila and I loved that she walked away at the end and didn’t even glance back.  She has a lot of potential especially now she has discovered she has a small glimmer of magic herself, but much like you, I’m not really interested in continuing this one.  To be fair, I don’t think I’m the target audience and these days I’m less inclined to be bowled over by the promise of a dreamy relationship, which, I realise didn’t happen here – but it does hold the potential for a love interest in future instalments, even maybe the dreaded love triangle.  

I vote we move on and see if we can find something that will really blow us away.

Mayri : Ha! I second that! I’d much rather discover something new than read something because it might get better. 

And, yeah, I felt this wasn’t really written for me either. I can see how everything that happened in this book could whet the appetite for some (especially that possible romance *shudder*), but unfortunately, it didn’t grab me.

And there are so many books out there … waiting for us. 😁

 

So, there we have it.  All wrapped up.  It’s a shame this one didn’t quite work out for us both.  There are some fabulous ideas here and to be totally fair – I recently read and adored The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by the same author so it could be that my expectations were unrealistically high going into this one.  This book does enjoy a lot of love though so don’t be put off by the fact that it didn’t quite win us over.

 

12 Responses to “A Slightly Different Review : A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by VE Schwab”

  1. Buddy Reading A Darker Shade of Magic with Lynn – bookforager

    […] the first half of our chat here, and then the second half can be found over on Lynn’s blog here. Please be warned that there will be SPOILERS of the ginormous […]

  2. Tammy

    Sorry you didn’t love this. I read it several years ago and really loved it. I’m so curious to see what book you pick next😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it’s a shame. I can’t help wondering too if my expectations were unreasonably high after reading the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. It certainly wasn’t a bad read but it just didn’t really work for me.
      Lynn 😀

  3. mphtheatregirl

    I actually loved Shades of Magic series. Fell in love with this book from the first paragraph. I do love both Kell and Lila. Right when I fell in love with this book, I knew I had to continue the series

  4. pagesandtea

    I like this review format, especially when it’s a book I’ve read. I did carry on and read book 2 but never got around to the third book.
    Hope you enjoy whatever you decide to read next 🙂

  5. bkfrgr

    Sorry to be tardy, Lynn, in coming over here to say this, but thank you again for another great buddy read. I am loving reading books with you! 😘

  6. Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab […]

  7. Quest Log the Second

    […] Mayri the BookForager and Lynn’s Books got under the skin of VE Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic in their buddy read discussion (Part 1 | Part 2) […]

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