Saturday 11 April 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic - V E Schwab

A nice twist on the alternate reality plot line, this novel takes the concept of an alternate London and stretches it as far as possible. Here we have four Londons all inter linked and all with varying degrees of magic within them. At the boring end of the spectrum we have 'Grey London' here it's 1818, George III is still the king and people live without magic in their lives. In 'Red London' magic exists within most people to varying degrees and the city is ruled by a benevolent dynasty, albeit one that isn't above 'owning' people. 'White London' is a world at war with itself, continual coups and outbreaks of magic have leeched the life out of the people and their world. Only the strongest and most cruel can survive here, and it is ruled by twin despots. 'Black London' has been swallowed by the excessive magic that destroyed the balance between magic and humanity. Only very special magicians are able to travel between these worlds, and at the time of this story only two are alive. One serving White London and one Red. The story follows an attempt by White London to break down the walls that exist between the worlds. It is a tightly woven and well thought out story, with a consistent plot and no blatant loopholes. The characters are believable and interact well together and the action is exciting. There are also a few threads left nicely open at the end, leaving room for further exploration in book two. Delilah's eye is one plot line that I would want explored in the second instalment. In the strictest sense real world London only plays a very minor role in the story unlike in the Aaranovitch Rivers of London or Guy Adams Clown service books, but it is still a nice touch and grounds the book in some basis of reality, allowing the fantastical elements to stand out all the more. The storyline is a tiny bit teeny at times, with the few romantic scenes seeming to be written for a younger audience maybe. However this does not detract from the overall effect.

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