In the second installment of the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, Delilah Bard is aboard the Night Spire as its best thief, while Kell is being closely watched by the King of Red London. It’s been four months since the fateful night where Kell tied his life with Rhy’s, defeated Holland and the Danes, and returned the black stone to Black London, and the urge to run grows stronger in him every day. But he is not alone. Prince Rhy’s mood has turned dark, and to avoid the thoughts that haunt him at night, the prince focuses all of his time and energy into the Essen Tasch, a magical tournament held between London and its surrounding countries. But unbeknownst to most, this year’s tournament will hold many secrets and surprises for all involved.
I’ve said it before and I will say it until the day I die: Victoria Schwab knows how to tell a story. One aspect of her writing that I will always admire is the pacing. Schwab has a way of telling a story quickly, but not too quickly. She doesn’t bog the reader down with recapping what had happened in the previous book, and instead weaves it throughout the new story, placing nuggets at the right spot where the reader will say, “Ah, yes! I remember now.” She also weaves in new characters with the old. Although Delilah Bard is still my favorite character, Alucard Emery has become a close second with his charm and wit.
Out of all of Schwab’s story, A Gathering of Shadows pays the closest homage to Harry Potter with the Essen Tasch. However, it still tells a story all of its own. There are a few unanswered questions by the end, as well as a cliff hanger that will make your heart drop, but all of that makes me even more excited to pick up the final installment in the trilogy, A Conjuring of Light. Seriously, if you haven’t started this trilogy yet, what are you waiting for?
When you enter one London—because in Victoria Schwab’s series A Darker Shade of Magic there are four—you can immediately feel the differences from the others. Grey London is like the real London, with well known landmarks and no traces of magic; Red London is beautiful and lush with magic; White London is hard and cold, it’s hold on magic a constant struggle; and Black London is just that—burnt and in ruins, a myth to most and a memory to some.
Readers are set on an adventure with Kell, an Antari whose job it is to travel between the Londons to communicate with the different rulers, when he is given a token of Black London. A token that should not exist.
But Kell is not the only hero in this story. Although Delilah Bard, a cutpurse with dreams of being a pirate on the open seas, is not a conventional hero, she is the only person who seems to be able to help Kell—whether he wants her help or not. Together the two face numerous challenges and villains, including Holland, the only other Antari that exists, and the Dane twins who rule White London.
Schwab takes several chapters to build up the plot, letting readers first get to know Kell and his world and the different Londons. But not too much information is provided at once. She drops hints of events that have happened or characters who are important to the plot like bread crumbs. All these hints help to lead to the main event, and although the outcome can be gleaned from these bread crumbs, Schwab crafts a story that will still leave readers breathless.
A Darker Shade of Magic is the first in a trilogy and the second adult fiction book written by Schwab. Although the pacing is similar to a young adult novel, the story’s gruesome and random murders, as well as its suggestive dialogue, move it up a peg to adult status.
Ten years after Victor and Eli—college roommates with the same ambitions—both had near-death experiences that changed the course of their lives, Victor breaks out of prison determined to catch up with his old friend. With the help of his cell mate and a young girl with her own special abilities, Victor finds Eli hard at work tracking down and disposing of every other super-powered person he can find. And he is just as eager to see Victor again as Victor is to see him.
Vicious is the third book by Victoria Schwab I’ve read this year (with the hope of reading one more before the year is out). Over the course of the year, she has become one of my favorite authors, creating characters and worlds that inspire me both as a reader and a writer. And Vicious was no different.
There probably wasn’t anything about this book that I could point at and be like, “Yeah, I didn’t really like that.” I was enchanted by all of the characters. They each had their own distinct personalities, and each came with their own background stories that were slowly revealed as the main story unraveled. The pacing of the story was well done—none of it dragged, but it also didn’t feel rushed at any point, as sometimes can happen at the end of a book. The ending was also the perfect mixture of closure with hope for a continuation, which is currently in the works and one I can’t wait to get my hands on.
It’s been six months since Kate Harker arrived in Prosperity, leaving behind Verity and the monsters that live there. But when she runs into a new monster—one that feeds on violence and chaos—she’s forced to return to Verity before it destroys the city and those she still cares about. But in Verity things have changed. North City and South City are warring against one another, and Sloan will stop at nothing to win. August has also changed, and Kate needs to find a way to bring back the monster who once wished to be human.
Our Dark Duet is the sequel and final installment of the Verity series and is just as amazing and beautiful as the first, This Savage Song. I’ve said it before and I will say it always: Victoria Schwab has a beautiful way with words. Her world building and characters are unique bringing on a life of their own. Once I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down and was not disappointed when I was done. From beginning to end the story was satisfying and tied up the plots that still remained from the first book as well as the newly formed plots.
One thing I especially appreciated with this series is (*spoiler warning*) that the two main characters, Kate and August, did not end up in a relationship. I feel that it’s kind of standard that the two main characters who start off as enemies somehow fall in love with one another. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if it’s done in a way that works well with the rest of the story, I did appreciate that we had a male and female main character who could remain friends.
I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy Young Adult Fantasy. I promise you will not be disappointed!
Kate Harker has been kicked out of enough boarding schools that her father finally gives in to her biggest wish: to come home to the city of Verity, a city divided between humans and monsters. Although desperate to be human, August Flynn is one of those monsters—a monster who only has to play a song on his violin to steal a human’s soul. With the truce keeping the peace between humans and monsters strained, August—pretending to be human—is sent to Kate’s new school to keep an eye on her. Kate soon discovers August’s secret and decides to capture him and bring him to her father to show just how ruthless she can be. But a failed assassination attempt sets off a chain of events that could finally break the already fragile truce in Verity.
I’ve been trying (and failing miserably) to not buy a lot of books this year, because my library is already full of books that I haven’t read yet (current count is 82). But when I saw the ebook version of This Savage Song was on sale on Amazon for $2, I knew I had to go for it. This is actually the first book I’ve read by Victoria Schwab, but I’ve been pumped about reading her work for a while. I began to follow her on Twitter after I read a blog post she wrote about the struggles of getting published and how aspiring writer’s should not give up, but continue on with the knowledge that it will be a struggle. The post was inspirational, and I knew I had to read more of her advice. Between her tweets and the tweets of her fans (who are also amazing), I knew I had to get my hands on her work.
Anyway, it probably took me about one-third of This Savage Song to really get into the story. Schwab’s writing is well done, but the way she started this book was a bit disjointed, but not to the point where I wanted to give up. In fact, it made me want to keep going because I wanted to find out what it all meant. It wasn’t until after the reader begins to find out exactly what kind of monster August is that I got sucked in. From that point on, I felt that the story was better paced and the reader really gets a feel for the characters. While the majority of the ending was surprising and heart racing, there was one scene that I was able to guess prior to it occurring. However, Schwab has a way with words that captures the imagination and the ending of the book made me excited for the release of the sequel, Our Dark Duet.