A Darker Shade of Magic book 2
**Contains spoilers – read with caution**
Quick fire review:
Here is my quick breakdown…There will be swearing because this book just upped the fucking game! Highlight read of the year.
Oh, and brace yourself for an overuse of exclamation points and spoilers galore because my fangirl word vomit cannot be contained.
Kell is plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, he is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila. As Red London prepares for the Element Games – an extravagant international competition of magic – a certain pirate ship draws closer. But another London is coming back to life, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning. Black London has risen again – and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall.
I feel like I just went on a soul satisfying adventure, and all I had to do was read this book. Other authors need to take note because this is how it’s done. I’d even go so far as to say that this was better than A Darker Shade of Magic; just my opinion of course.
Let me take a quick minute to fire off some of the things I loved:
* More information about how magic works because duh, magic is dope
* Lila being her straight up badass self
* Kell and Rhy sharing some brotherly love and strong banter
* Kell for being Kell
* Um, Holland. Yeah I loved it!
* Solid new character additions
* Every version of this book’s cover. Seriously, all of them
I’m not going to lie, it took me a hot minute to remember how all the different versions of London worked but once I was in, I was all in, and I devoured every single word!
Okay, enough with the exclamation points, let’s break this bitch down.
I like that this starts a few months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic because it was really interesting watching our main duo deal with the aftermath of the decisions they made in White London. I also love that Delilah and Kell aren’t together. I really appreciate that V. E. Schwab didn’t play in to the sensibilities of insta-love obsessed readers and write a story where Delilah and Kell were joined at the hip. This felt more genuine to the story and to these characters I grew to love.
“The accent of a royal and the sensibilities of a thief.”
The very start of this book just confirms that Lila is a bad ass who doesn’t fear danger but rather embraces adventure…and one upping people. Not only does she manipulate her way on to a pirate ship, but she just happens to take out 14 men all on her own using spiked ale and some good old ingenuity. How I’ve missed her!
“More and more, the bond felt like a chain.”
I’d forgotten that after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, Rhy and Kell are now bound together – Rhy is basically invincible but if Kell were to die, so would the Prince. This bond definitely made the book a whole lot more interesting for me and it was both entertaining and heartbreaking to watch Rhy test the limits of what the bond could do. I feel really bad for both of these guys; Kell was obviously saving his brothers life when he bound them together and Rhy, well all he wants is to return to normal – he feels guilty for the burden he has unwittingly placed on his brother. It was cool to learn that pain isn’t the only thing that transfers through the bond. With fear, anger, pleasure, lethargy and more flowing freely between the two, their once strong bond is on shaky ground for a while.
“Lila wondered for perhaps the hundredth time which version of Alucard was the real one, of if, somehow, they were all real, each in its own way.”
Alucard was such a fantastic addition to this world. He was very mysterious from the outset and I really liked his relationship with Lila. I totally thought this might end up being a new romance for a minute there but I’m glad I was wrong. I really like that Alucard was a strong, smart and vivid man that felt like he could hold his own alongside Kell in the eyes of Lila; not in a romantic way but rather in terms of respect. But yeah, there I was thinking I had it all down until Alucard and Rhy run in to each other once they are back in Red London…and my mind was blown yet again! I didn’t see it coming but I am fucking on board.
I also want to give quick mention to old Holland who is not as dead as I thought he was going to be. After being blasted in to Black London and nearly dying, he is saved by an old King who destroyed his own Kingdom and is now on the hunt for a new one…in Holland’s body. Drama much? I felt really bad for Holland – who I didn’t actually mind too much in the first book – because he was at the helm of all these atrocious dreams of grandeur but he had no real control. But in typical Holland fashion, he is still opportunistic as ever…but I won’t spoil that for you.
Let’s talk about how epic the Essen Tasch (The Element Games) sounds for a second!
I kept picturing it as the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter but on crack – everyone just goes ham! The strategic uses of magic in this was great and it was cool to see how much Lila has grown; from being a mere mortal to now being able to control the elements, that is some insane character growth. And of course, there is the big moment when Lila and Kell come face-to-face, sort of. I mean they are both disguised as other people so they could actually participate in the games but that is a minor detail because we all know that those two could pick each other in a crowded room shrouded in darkness.
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every great courtship.”
I spent so long waiting in anticipation for Kell and Lila to reunite. I love that they were both in each others subconscious for the entire book because it’s been obvious from the very beginning of their journey that they share a deep connection. Those scenes in the ballroom and on the balcony put a big smile on my face, but it wasn’t until the end that I realized how badly I want these two to have a happy ending.
I have a love/hate relationship with cliffhanger endings – as I’m sure everyone does – but this one hit me right where it hurts because I need to know what the fuck is going on! Everything went nuts in the last 10% of the book and I just know that the third is going to be a magic filled adventure of epic proportions!
*Sorry for the overuse of exclamation points – I can’t be tamed! 🙂
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