Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab (2015)

This had some great ideas - the awesome coat that Kell wears; the idea that London exists in several worlds; how Kell travels between worlds.  But the connective thread between these ideas was half-baked.   My main problem with the book was the London in our world; Schwab sets this during the Regency period (later George III) but the Regency London she paints could stand in for any stock fantasy city - some taverns, a female thief, some ships, cobblestones.  I kept wanting to return to Red London - the most highly developed world.  White London seemed interesting too, although it had shades of Game of Thrones.  But Grey London, our London, was completely flavorless.  Why use the Regency period at all, if you aren't going to USE it.  It's just a backdrop and not a very well painted one.  My other problem - it took so long to build up to anything; this book took forever to get going, and for no good reason.  A disappointment, because those ideas with more meat could have made for a brilliant fantasy.

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Some great ideas here, but a really good book needs meat to connect those ideas together, and this just didn't have any connective tissue. My main complaint was the setting: why set part of the novel in Regency London, and then turn that Regency London into a stock fantasy city (taverns, cobblestones, thieves, boats). Regency London could have been a a romp of a setting (at least it is in all the other novels I've read set in this era, (see Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, or Jane Austen), but Schwab calls it "Grey London," and it is indeed Grey. Perhaps because it's a series, this gets developed later, but that argument holds little water with me as a reader - I'm like Veruca Salt (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) when it comes to novels, I want it all NOW. This could have been a fantasy feast; but let's face it: could have beens aren't very much fun to read.

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