Shades of Magic, V.E. Schwab

Shades of Magic, V.E. Schwab

This past month I decided to read all three books written by V.E. Schwab that conform the Shades of Magic trilogy. I have been thinking about reading that book for quite some time, having seen the books in the bookshop and liking the cover, yet I always had other books on my list that I prioritised. However this October I finally took the plunge and bought the first one, without knowing that I would end up reading all three books in less than a month (I have also had more time to read lately than I have in a long time, so that helped).

In Shades of Magic we follow Kell who is one of the last Antari―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey (our London), White, and, once upon a time, Black. Officially he serves the Maresh Empire in Red London as an ambassador. Unofficially though he is also a smuggler, an occupation that results in terrible consequences as Kell is tricked into unleashing dark magic across the Londons. Alongside his brothers Rhy and Lila, Kell will fight to stop the growing darkness in the different worlds and find his place in the world.

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I really enjoy this series and had a really good time reading it. It is a fast paced series that once you start is hard to put down as every chapter moves the story forward to a point where you become really intrigued. It is able to tell a complex story with different worlds in a simple way that does not bore you with too many unnecessary details, in a way it is a style that reminds of another great fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson. The progression of the story between the three books feels naturals and follows an internal logic whilst raising the stakes in every book, before reaching a great conclusion that whilst finishing the story leaves enough opened for another series of books in this world.

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Perhaps what I enjoyed the most in this series is the characters. V.E. Schwab is able to give us complex characters that are shaped by the events of the books and evolve as the events unfold. The apparent contrast between Kell, part of a royal family, and Lila, a street thief, or Kell and Holland, create complex and fun interactions that slowly show us that beyond appearances they are actually more similar. Lila especially is a fascinating character, a character caught between the hardships of the street and real life but at the same time able to dream of a life full of pirates and adventures, and strife to achieve this dream. I loved the characters and related to them throughout the different novels and thus was really invested on the fate of the characters.

All in all, I highly recommend this fantasy series. It is a great read and also one that will capture you with the setting, the magic and the characters. The author is able to weave a great story, which will constantly leave you wanting more and perhaps most importantly will entertain you.    

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