For our March pick for the 2015 Reading Challenge, Chris and I decided to read a book from the category “a book published this year.” I chose A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.
I chose this book because generally speaking I love a good fantasy. Magic, adventure, usually a bit of mystery and suspense. Many of my favorite books of all time are fantasies. But I think it’s important to note that they are all children’s fantasies. I’m often a little wary of more grown up books in this genre because I feel like they tend to include a lot of violence, or sex, or both. I’m not usually interested in including too much of those subjects in my brain space. It’s precious space.
With that said, I recommend A Darker Shade of Magic with reservations. It’s a pretty fascinating story. Four Londons, all with varying shades of magic. One has been consumed and lost to the power of magic, one tries to control magic (and the rest of the city) through force, one enjoys a magic that is in harmony and at peace, and the other has lost all traces of magic. The doors between these worlds were closed long ago and now only a few people are born with enough magical ability to make the journey between worlds. The protagonist of the story, Kell, is one of those rare people. He serves as a courier between the royal families of each London, and the action of the story centers around what happens when a dangerous item from the lost London is allowed to slip through into the other worlds.
Like I said, it’s a fascinating story and I found it hard to put down. I stayed up too late several evenings in a row while reading this. However, it is pretty violent at times. Lots of blood and slashing of throats and bodies being possessed by evil magic and what not. My only other criticism of the book is that I feel like there were several instances where the author made mention of a detail that felt like it was going to be important to the rest of the story, but ended up going nowhere. It was a little frustrating because I could see where the story could go with the detail, and it would have been pretty interesting, but instead it was just dropped. I suppose those loose ends could be leaving the door open for a sequel, but it’s my understanding that it was not published with that in mind. As it was, it just felt a little sloppy.
Overall though it was an enjoyable book, and I’ve officially read as many books as I read in all of last year, so that’s a victory! We’ll be taking a break from the challenge in April so Chris can catch up on his March pick. (The recent biography of Steve Jobs, which turned out to be rather huge.) I have a few books in mind that I might read as extras though, so I’ll be sure to give a report if I do!
2015 Reading Challenge Reviews
- February pick: A book currently on the best-seller list – All the Light we Cannot See