A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

Hi everyone !

Today, we have a special guest, with a talent for witty and brilliant reviews !

Thank you Petrik for sharing your reviews of Shades of Magic with us 🙂

Enjoy guys! 

The Booksprens.


Rating: 3/5 Stars

This is an unpopular opinion, if you’re easily offended, please don’t read this review.

Okay, 3 stars is still a good rating but I think rating aDSoM 3 stars on Goodreads is like I’m an E.T who arrives in London. This is my sixth month on Goodreads and throughout that period, there are three series that always appeared on my feeds and probably everyone else. First, Six of Crows duology, second, anything that came out of Sarah J Maas’s head and finally, the Shade of Magic trilogy by V.E Schwab. It needed to be said first that I’m not a fan of the YA genre but these series are hyped as drug dealers search for heroin and I decided to give some of them a try with hope it will changed my mind on the genre. Sadly it didn’t, Six of Crows duology disappointed me (Oh look, so many arrows. Casted magic barrier to block all the arrows shooting at me), this book also disappointed me (Magic Barrier is now broken) and I won’t even touch anything by Sarah J Maas. (Endless arrow pinned me to a wall.)

Don’t get me wrong, I never said I hated the Six of Crows duology or this book, it disappointed me but I actually think both series is still good to read. I actually liked this book for a while until the underwhelming climax happened. It’s just a shame there are a lot of parts that obstructed me from loving aDSoM. I love V.E Schwab’s work on Vicious, it was unique, morally ambiguous, suited for adult audience and have great characters. It’s why I gave this series a try, turns out I’ve been fooled. aDSoM’s plot is really YA-ish and it’s the exact opposite of what made Vicious great for me.

There is nothing remotely interesting about the plot. It’s a very typical McGuffin story which had been overdone to death already. These days, there are a lot of stories and themes that have been overdone but somehow managed to deliver immersive and intriguing plot with great casts of characters and their developments.

That’s the other main problem with ADSoM, I’m so detached from the story and the characters that I honestly don’t care about any of them if they died or not. There are no developments at all for the main characters except Lila. Kell is angsty but he cares about Rhy, Rhy is gay (or bisexual or nymphomania I don’t know, seems like he’ll have sex with anything that moves.) and he cares about Kell, Lila is adventurous,

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

Holland is mysterious and the Dane Twins is sadistic. There, I talked about the main characters personality and their development progression throughout this whole book within one sentence. Lila and Holland is probably the only saving characters of this book, Lila character is more fleshed out compared to the rest and for Holland, he’s just more interesting and every scene where he appears really shine for the book.

Holland and the Dane Twins

I honestly prefer Holland to be the main character compared to Kell. Seriously, out of everything I ever read, Kell is one of the most boring character of all time. The only thing intriguing about him is his coat and it’s always a bad sign when the clothes is more captivating than the person. Don’t even compare him with Kelsier from Mistborn just because they have similar name, just… don’t.

Finally, the last problem I have with the book is the underwhelming magic and climax. If there’s one thing that V.E Schwab haven’t improved since Vicious, it’s definitely the climax scene delivery. Vicious would have received a 5 star from me if it wasn’t for the super underwhelming climax and sadly, it’s still the same here. Even all the action scenes in the book are really standard and provides zero intensity. I read the climax sequences with a face and emotion so flat that drinking a hot Chamomile tea will give more reaction to my emotion.

Now, with all the problems I have with the book, you’re probably wondering why this is not a 1 star or 2 star review. Here’s the thing, even with all the negativity, I still don’t hate the book, I still enjoy reading it. Why? Because of these 3 factors that really shine from aDSoM. 4 alternative London concept, V.E Schwab’s writing and Kell’s Coat, yes that coat is a work of brilliance and deserve an extra star.

The 4 color alternative London is a really great concept, it’s one of the biggest reasons why I bought this book in the first place other than the fact I thought it will be more adult oriented than Vicious. It’s like V.E Schwab took Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere imagination and gave it a twist to make it her own idea. All 4 version of London have their unique characteristic. Grey London, our version of London which smells like smoke, Red London, Kell’s version of London which smelled like fire, White London, the Dane Twin’s & Holland’s version of London which smelled like blood and finally Black London, the lost London which smelled like teen spirit. Okay I’m joking, there is no known smell to Black London since no one can go there anymore. I do wish there’s an explanation though on why there is 4 London in the first place since the setting is in our real world, maybe the future sequels will enlighten me on this.

I have always loved Schwab’s writing, her choices of words and pages format never fails to make me turn those pages even when things aren’t interesting. Finally, Kell’s coat, I won’t talk about this much since I honestly think it’s better for you to find out about this peculiar coat on your own. If I have Kell’s coat, I don’t think I’ll ever need another coat again. Take note fashion designers, when you make do a Men’s fashion show, Kell’s Coat is the kind of shit I will buy in a heartbeat.

Not this cereals costume
Not this Frankenstein’s monster wannabe, why would I want to eliminate my own neck?
And for the love of all that is holy and sacred not this abomination

Despite everything, I still like the book enough to finish it and I still have hope for the future sequels. It won’t be soon but I will continue with the series eventually with really low expectation. I’m hoping a Gathering of Shadows and a Conjuring of Light will be better than aDSoM since obviously to me this book is clearly an Overhyped Shade of Magic. It lacked a touch of brilliance to make the book reach its maximum potential that the concept provides and I sincerely hope the sequels will receive the shade of magic it needs.


Review by Petrik.

2 thoughts on “A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

  1. Good review, Petrik! 🙂 You bring up some good points, most I actually agree with, but I think we found another series where we are on opposite ends of the enjoyment scale haha. I hope your next series read is better. 🙂


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