Tag Archive | fantasy book

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | Book Review

shade of magicBook: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic, #1

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5 Stars

“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” he said.

“Sure I do. There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London.”

When I decided to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic, the first V.E Schwab book I was acquainted with, I never anticipated loving it as much as I did. Obviously I scolded myself for not picking it up sooner, but nevertheless I believe it was the right time to finally read it considering I sensed another reading slump creeping its way towards me. The book managed to draw me into its strange and unique world(s) from the very first line. It was hard to put down, especially when I needed to during exam season, but it helped me get lost and get through some stressful times.

The characters were a pleasure to get to know and the rules of magic, as well as the way the world(s) worked, developed in an informative yet not too overwhelming way throughout the book. This book also reminded me why I love fantasy so much. The little things, such as taverns, swords, magic, and the overall atmosphere of the book, were a part of why these familiar feelings came flooding in. A few parts definitely made me cringe though when the violence was described in vivid ways, and the amount of blood used and spilled in this book was constant, but it didn’t entirely falter my enjoyment of the book as I felt my rating should be a solid 5 stars.

A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell Maresh and Lila Bard. Kell is what is known as an Antari, one of two that exist, which means he possesses the power to use blood magic to travel between all the existing Londons. Red London, which thrives with magic, is where Kell is from. Grey London, which is very mundane. White London, which starves for magic. And Black London, which hasn’t existed for a long time. The determined, cunning, and brave female protagonist, Lila, is from the dull Grey London and her only wish is to be free. Of course freedom is hard to obtain, so Lila is determined to get what she wants by being a cross-dressing, cutthroat thief. Her goal of being a pirate is how she imagines her freedom to look like, but she can’t be a pirate without the perfect vessel, a scabbard, and a sword. These two characters meet each other in a dramatic and unpleasant circumstance, but perhaps having each other’s backs is the smart option if defeating and surviving the darkness and the danger, that is inevitable to come, is a possibility.

I loved the relationship that developed between Kell and Lila. The mix of Kell’s seriousness and Lila’s talent of finding trouble resulted in hilarious banter that was highly entertaining. The fact that they kept saving each other from danger never ceased to surprise me and yet I appreciated how it got them closer together. And boy was Kell’s constant solution to getting Lila out of trouble by telling her to run my favorite thing ever.

I’m excited to pick up and get through the next book in order to learn more about the world(s) and the characters. There is still so much to explore and I imagine more of how the different Londons and the magical elements are designed will come into play in the continuation of this series.     

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

 

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Book: Heartless

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy/Retelling

My Rating: 4 Stars

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

 Having rarely been immersed in the classic world of Alice in Wonderland in the past, Heartless by Marissa Meyer threw me into this impossible, whimsical world and I fell in love. And falling in love can in fact lead to a broken heart, which is one of the many emotions I endured because of this tale of the Queen of Hearts before she was the Queen of Hearts. Throughout this book I felt joyful, flushed, in love, annoyed, heartbroken, and angry.

Heartless follows Catherine (Cath), a young girl who only wants to follow her dreams of opening up a bakery. She is the daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness and because of this, expectations weigh her down, ones she wishes she could defy but deep down knows it would be useless. So Cath went on dreaming of the impossibilities with her maid and best friend Mary Ann. Cath knew that the inevitability of the King of Heart’s proposal of marriage was to be bestowed upon her and that her rejection would follow the disappointment of her parents, who were so pleased at the notion of their only daughter becoming queen. Cath’s dreams of the bakery were soon met with the dreams of being with Jest, the new court joker, who she encounters unexpectedly after running away from an almost marriage proposal. Jest was enchanting, entertaining, romantic, and impossible and their forbidden fondness for each other grew rapidly and passionately.

Heartless was such a beautiful but oh so strange read that was hard to put down once the story took off. Almost like falling down a rabbit hole with no tether to stop you from reaching the end. My 4 star rating was the result of my love of the characters and the entertainment of the world’s magical elements, but I was pained by the fact that I felt heartless myself at a certain point in this story, so I couldn’t give it that perfect rating.

Spoilers Ahead

 

Talking animals, a romantic relationship between a pig and a human, enchanted pumpkins that can turn someone into the vilest creature, a vanishing cat, and so much more.

Wonderland is an odd place and despite expecting all this already, it definitely had me surprised more times than I could keep track of.

My love for the main characters, Cath, Jest, Mary Ann, Hatta and Raven, left me in complete shreds by the end because all I wanted was for my favourites to be happy.

Cath knew what would bring her joy for the rest of her life, opening up a bakery and being with Jest, but was restricted by her parent’s dream of her becoming queen. Unfortunately the world she lived in didn’t see it proper for a woman to own a business, especially one who already had a high title in society. Her reputation was on the line, one she didn’t care about tarnishing, but her parents obviously thought differently. I just wish Cath was able to stand up for herself, her future, her happiness from the beginning, to not allow anyone to restrain her wants and dreams.           

Jest. Jest!

This beautiful, spirited joker who only wanted a lifetime at Cath’s side! I just can’t. I knew from the moment we met Jest that something was going to happen. There needed to be a motivation, something to turn Cath into the one thing she never wanted to be. And of course I was preparing myself for the inevitable, but when it happened, it didn’t sting any less.

There were so many great moments between him and Cath though. I loved the angst when Jest had to help woo Cath on the King’s behalf and witness their courtship, wishing he was in the King’s place. I loved when they snuck away in the middle of the night to join Hatta’s tea party, which is also where he found out how much of a talented baker she was. Or that time she chooses him and he whisks her away from the King and kisses her passionately. There were too many beautiful moments and all I can say is that Jest deserved better.

It was all just multiple catastrophic events that lead to that fated outcome. If Hatta didn’t throw those pumpkin seeds in the patch, if Mary Ann wasn’t stupid enough to venture there by herself, if Cath didn’t decide to go through that door… maybe things would have turned out alright. But it’s exhausting to think about all the what ifs.

Like I’ve said before, that outcome was inevitable. Cath needed to be heartless, to seek vengeance, to be angry, and what better way to motivate her into becoming one of the most treacherous villains we have ever known then by taking away the one person she loved the most from her life in the most horrific way.

Despite feeling sad about this conclusion, I’m actually glad that Raven stayed with her. Even though he has now become her executioner and the whole thing is entirely messed up, at least she still has a part of Jest with her. I just hope between all that wickedness she realizes it too.

I’ve always found Marissa Meyer’s stories easy to stay absorbed in from the very first line. I love how she’s able to take these beloved and well-known characters, write a unique twist to their stories, and still include elements from the original. For example, Jest gave her white roses and the castle gardens were full of them, reminding her of the grief and pain she was enduring from losing him. So she demanded only red roses to be planted, which is a parallel to “painting the roses red.”

I believe where the story ended was pretty conclusive and it makes sense that Heartless is a standalone, but I’m not opposed to a sequel if Marissa Meyer ever wanted to tell more of Cath’s story. Regardless, I’m looking forward to reading more books by Marissa Meyer.