A Darker Shade of Magic Series Review

So, to start this off I’m going to be honest and say I read the first book last year, and finally got around to reading the second and third this last month.  The word ‘finally’ actually does not even begin to describe the sense of shame that comes with that long wait, especially considering that the last two books were sitting on my bookcase since July last year.  If that shame I feel doesn’t tell you how great V.E. Schwab’s series are than you haven’t seen my glowing review of her other series, the Monsters of Verity duology, which was the first series of hers that read, and certainly not the last.  After this I plan to find her Archived series, and Vicious, both of which have outstanding ratings on goodreads!

To start this off, I’m giving the series an overall 4.75 stars!  It’s been a while since I’ve had an honest to goodness trilogy (I thought Red Rising was until it magically poofed into a saga) that had me from book one, and kept me excited book after book.  Most of the series I pick up now are either duologies or full fledged series with more than 4-5 books by a longshot.  From the first line of A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab captures you with a simple description of her protagonist, Kell;

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat.”  -V.E. Schwab

It’s one of the shortest sentences, but after reading the series you realize that not only is the coat peculiar, but it’s also incredibly important and cool to the story.  I still can’t get over how she pulled me in on a six word sentence!  Below, is the order of the books in the series before I break down each book with a review, excluding the first since it’s been too long to write anything in depth/specific to it.  The only thing I can say for it is that I picked it up and loved it enough that I needed the next two ASAP.

Book 1: A Darker Shade of Magic

Book 2: A Gathering of Shadows

Book 3: A Conjuring of Light

Book 2 Review: A Gathering of Shadows: 4 out of 5 stars

This one was the easiest jumping back into a series book that I have ever read.  There was a bit of a re-learning curve, but where the book comes back with the characters Lila, Kell, and Rhy makes it easy enough to pick up even after a pretty long time between this and the first book.  I’ll admit I was the one waiting for something to happen though, since a good portion of the beginning is a little like build up/preparation for the action that starts about midway.  That’s likely the only reason this series doesn’t get an astounding five stars.  It was still exciting and amazing to read, but that build up, and seeing Kell blamed so much was hard on me.  Once it began to pick up pace is when I found I couldn’t put the book down and finished the rest in a good day.

Besides the feeling that this was a time for preparation and learning, I loved the characters that were introduced here like Alucard Emery, a pirate, er privateer with a mysterious past and life.  His meeting with Lila is perhaps one of the funnier or strangest I have ever seen, and to avoid spoilers I will just say you will laugh at the situation.  We all know Lila has never been easy, nor have her plans ever been completely sane, so when she begins the book with a plan be scared, very scared.  To say her part of the beginning is easy probably wouldn’t be accurate, but in comparison to Kell, I’d say she had it better.  Kell, who stays as always in his London, has it much rougher.  Following the events of book one, he is feared, and while maybe not hated, certainly not greeted with appreciation or love by both the people of London, and those he had once considered family.  Rhy and Tieran, are really the only ones to have his back at this point.  That is why this was a struggle, Kell is my favorite, and this is a time period where he is not his best, nor given the best, but struggle through this and you shall be rewarded with my favorite part, which is the Element Games!  This I won’t go into detail, since 90% of that would be spoiler filled, but these are the best part of the book in my opinion, and are part of the reason that made me pick up the next book!

This time when I finished a book of the series I wrote a review on goodreads, and was jumping at the next book, ready to continue.  If the review of the overall series still left you in doubt, or you read the first book, and found yourself questioning whether to continue, let this review be clear; you will love this book!  -Next part is a spoiler, so if you’ve read the book or are fine knowing the ending then proceed through the yellow tape, if not I suggest skipping the bold spoiler marks or stopping here since you may not want to see the next review yet either.

SPOILER BEGIN ———————————————————–

So, for those that have braved this part this is a little more like a rant.  I love V.E. Shwab and all the books she has written (that I have read so far), but her endings are killing me.  First, she makes Kell and Lila go separate ways, which I do understand and get, but come on!  Second, she ends with Kell getting captured, and that magic killing collar going around his neck.  Can I ask why she’s torturing the readers like this?  I think I was panicking through this part, and telling Lila to hurry her butt up and save him!  I’m hoping the next ending isn’t going to kill me considering it will be a finale, but I’ve been through several authors who have done the sad endings.

Sorry for that though it is true.  Did anyone else have a hard time with this book in particular considering the ending?  This is probably the only book to make me thankful for not buying as they come out, barring Riordan and his awful cliff hangers in the Heroes of Olympus series.  If you have not read his books and plan to, you have been warned.

SPOILER END ———————————————————————

Book Three: A Conjuring of Light: 5 out of 5 stars

First; Following the events that ended A Gathering of Shadows, this book’s beginning lifted a weight off my chest.  V.E. Schwab don’t ever do that to me again!  The ending of that book had me panicking, and wondering what I would do if it didn’t resolve the way I wanted it to.  Let’s just say that I don’t want to go through that again anytime soon.

While Kell and Rhy are at least not in as much immediate danger, the looming threat of the Shadow King is enough to make all nervous as the book takes off with an energy that keeps you rooted to your reading spot.  The amount of rushing around in this first part is amazing as the momentum from the second book carries through and almost speeds up even more.  After that first rush though, there is a bit of a loll, almost like a doldrum, as everyone works to find solutions (all very tedious and long work), up until they jump on a ship.  The act of putting so many warring characters on a ship should seem pretty dangerous, but somehow it turns out to be the best thing, allowing us to finally see some resolutions to some conflicts and swinging us into the next action segments.  Who knew a ship scene could be so important and captivating?

This separate journey from the rest of the cast also allows for some really great character building, and some really interesting set up. From that point on everything picks up in speed and excitement winding up to that final battle we’ve all been waiting for. I fully recommend reading the first book of this series to this final installment, Schwab has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and will likely continue to be!

4 thoughts on “A Darker Shade of Magic Series Review

Add yours

    1. The first book mainly follows Kell, introducing us to his world, Red London, and his life as an Antari, an individual who can travel between Londons. Kell, though has been doing something he shouldn’t; taking and trading things from different Londons, and this secret turns bad as he picks up an item that means danger to his own London.

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