Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't perfect. Let me skip straight to pros and cons.

Pros: Lila was a great character. Practical in her choices, but with a cutthroat edge. Both of those attributes were complemented by a comical sense of self that caused her to wear coats and boots, and to speak her mind in any situation. Also, I love a good magic system, as you know, and this one is intriguing. Although I want to know more about where it came from, it is different, powerful, and limited at the same time.

Cons: The big con for me was the ending. (Spoiler alert: stop now if you care. ) The neutralization of the stone happened too quickly. Couldn't he just have tried to do that at the beginning as soon as he realized it was dangerous? Especially when the only option was apparent suicide? It seems like a rational person would have explored a few options, but Kell went straight to suicidal mission. Weird. My other con is a bit of light criticism of the author. The book felt a little clumsy at times. For instance, I don't think think the main characters ever ate. They should have both been dying of hunger. Details. Good fantasy is about the details. Another example is in the graphic nature of some scenes. To maximize story potential you have to make the bad guys REALLY bad, I get that. But a good writer can make the bad guy as horrible as they need to be with a minimal amount of graphic violence. It is an extension of the concept of leaving room for the readers to fill in the gaps with their minds. Astrid (or was it Athos?) Dane torturing a child? That scene could have been replaced with two sentences that suggested what had happened, and she/he is still just as bad of a person. Some people read for the gore, and if that was Schweab's intention, then she nailed it, but most main stream readers just don't need that, and so to me it looks sloppy.

So those are my thoughts on this one. I still give it 3 stars for its speed of story and overall concept, criticisms included.