I know you guys are all probably thinking, “This girl is crazy, there’s nothing that can compare to Harry Potter!” But I’m serious! The book — or books, because it’s a series — has been the best fantasy book I’ve read since Harry Potter. I’ve been a huge fantasy nut ever since I read my first Tamora Pierce book, aptly named “Alanna” 😉 I’m also a huge medieval fantasy fan. Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Mists of Avalon; any Tamora Pierce story; they’re all some of the best medieval fantasy stories that I love. Here’s why I’m obsessed with the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab.
First and foremost, it’s set in my favorite time period for fantasy books. Medieval times! I think medieval times fantasy are the best genre. Think Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings & the Hobbit, Mists of Avalon, any Tamora Pierce book. The list goes on. A Darker Shade of Magic and it’s sequels are set in medieval London. The neat spin to it is that it firstly has magic, and secondly, there are multiple parallel Londons. There are four different worlds in the book: White London – ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back – Red London – where life and magic are revered – Grey London, which is our world as we know it – magicless, boring, and ruled by mad King George – and lastly Black London – a world that was engulfed and taken over by magic. The main character is Kell, who is one of the last of his kind called Antari which are strong magicians who can travel between the paarallel worlds and also can use blood magic.
Kell is from Red London and is the official ambassador between worlds. Unofficially, Kell smuggles small trinkets between worlds illegally. This is what gets Kell in trouble because Kell accidentily smuggles something that is dark and powerful and threatens to unless the dangers of Black London into the other Londons. Our second main character is Delilah Bard, from Grey London. She is a thief whose path crosses and tangles with Kell. The world is bizarre and much different than any other story that I’ve read. Schwab breathes life into this world with great explanation that we can picture in our head without needing tons of lengthy, boring descriptions.
My third favorite piece of this book is that it isn’t overshadowed by romance. While I do enjoy a good romance, or even a story that has a romance within it, this story is entertaining, twisting, and complicated without any extraneous romances needed. No love triangles, no steamy sex scenes, or relationship fueled fights to create more dramatic flair.
And lastly, my biggest pet peeve with most popular fantasy and sci-fi books nowadays. This story is not another “group of teenagers save the day and save the world” story. I am so over that. It was endearing and exciting with Harry Potter and Hunger Games but the more and more books that relied on young children and teens to save the world has me rolling my eyes. This is not one of those books.
Oh and if you were a huge fan of the Goblet of Fire tournament, then the second book, a Gathering of Shadows, has a tournament called the Element Games that will get you all worked up! You’ll also get a bit more romance in this book, if that’s your style.
Not that I probably need to share my rating but this is my first 5/5 book this entire year!
Go pick it up from your local library or buy it now. It’s worth it!