My Kyrosmagica Review of A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

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Hi. Welcome to Kyrosmagica.

Time to do a review, what’s on the cards today? A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, that’s what.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

My review:

I’m a huge Victoria Schwab fan so I was expecting to love A Darker Shade of Magic and I was not disappointed.

There are so many appealing elements in this novel:

Magic, of course!

Kell’s fabulous coat.

Different Londons.

Pirate theme.

Kick ass heroine.

Well crafted villians.

Fantasy.

A magical stone.

Cross dressing girl dressed as a sea Captain.

Soul seals! You need to read the book to find out what these are!

TIP: Be aware that this is one of those books that you have to allow time to develop as you read. It  starts off with a fair amount of  detail about the magical world, introducing the reader to the contrasting world of the different Londons.

Sense of smell is used in a very interesting way to convey the different qualities of the Londons.

Black London is “the lost city,” that had to be sealed off from the other worlds.

After Black London fell  the doors connecting the Londons were closed: “Now only the Antari possessed enough power to make new doors, and even then only they could pass through them.”

Grey London is the magic-less city. When Kell, our fabulous protagonist with his very peculiar coat. “It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two which would be expected, but several, which was, of course, impossible. When Kell inhales the scent of Grey London he smells smoke.

Red London is where everybody learns to understand magic, it’s the healthy empire, Kell’s home. Red London smells to Kell  of home, but to others it smells of flowers.

White London’s magic is savage It is the starving world, which smells of blood. In Grey, read and white London there is,
“A fixed point,” The Stone’s Throw tavern, though In White London this establishment is called The Scorched Bone.

In this world there are only two magical Antari left: “Now, Kell and Holland seemed to be the last of a rapidly dying breed.”

“And Antari  could speak to blood. To life, to magic itself.”

But the characters of Kell and Holland couldn’t be more different.  Holland is under the control of the King and Queen of White London, Astrid and Athos Dane whose palace is a fortress with a stone forest of people, that they are rumoured to have killed. Don’t doubt it –  these two rulers are EVIL, EVIL, EVIL!!

Holland may be living and breathing but he is under the control of Astrid and Athos : “It was a voice (Holland’s voice) like a shadow in the woods at night. Quiet and dark and cold.”

When Barron and Holland have a confrontation, Victoria Schwab enriches the story by using the sense of smell once again:  “Holland smelled of ash and blood and metal.”

Kell shouldn’t be moving between the London’s collecting trinkets but it seems he can’t help himself. He is an adventurer and his princely brother Rhy warns him, “Transference is treason.”

Kell is such an engaging character, poor Kell, he doesn’t really belong, in fact he seems to think of himself as an object: “I feel more like a possession than a prince.”

Though he is fiercely fond and protective of his princely brother Rhy.” Kell has lived in the palace of red London since he was a young boy but he has been marked by a spell that makes him forget, “he suspected that the king and queen themselves had sanctioned it.”

Even in red London Kell’s one black eye, “Marked him always as other. ” Kell’s blood, when paired with the token (given to him by King George), allowed him to move between the worlds.

The story really cranks up a huge notch when we met Lila Bard, she is most definitely my favourite character in A Darker Shade of Magic: “Lila Bard lived by a simple rule: if a thing was worth having, it was worth taking.”

When we first meet Lila she dresses as a man, and nicks a watch off a gentleman.  She loves the thrill of living dangerously. Delilah Bard wants to sail away on a pirate ship. She has a wise side to her brought about by her daily life in the school of hard knocks, she sees that “you (Kell) may want for things but you need for nothing.”

The owner of the Stone’s Throw,  Barron,  appreciates her qualities and seems to have a soft spot for her. Kell takes a while to truly understand Lila:  “And for the first time, Kell saw Lila. Not as she wanted to be, but as she was. A frightened, albeit clever, girl trying desperately to stay alive.”

Kell is in possession of the Black London Stone, this Talisman transfers hands many times but Kell  is initially divested of it by none other than Lila Bard herself ! She has a moral code of sorts so she doesn’t steal from him and leave him empty handed she leaves behind a token, her kerchief.

This stone in the wrong hands could have disastrous results.  The adventure really livens up when Kell and Lila attempt to take  the stone back to Black London.

“I’m not going to die, ” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”

“seen what?”

Her smile widened. ” Everything.”

There are so many wonderful quotes that I have incorporated into this review but this one is my favourite of all:

“Delilah bard had finally escaped, sailed away. Not with a ship, but with a stone.”

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**** Spoilers Below ****

BEWARE!!!!!!

Though I loved this book I did find some difficulties with some of the events towards the end of the book. Holland wanted to die? “It was relief,” that crossed his face. Ok, I sort of got this, he wasn’t his own man he was under Athos and Astrid’s thumb but the way he just kind of gave in at the very last showdown just didn’t seem quite right to me. Also, I was quite surprised by the way in which Lila kills the young guard who is guarding Astrid. The guard asks to die quickly, Lila kills him without hesitating. I realise that she had no choice but I would have liked to see a moment of sadness following his death but somehow she just moves on too quickly and seems a little too brutal for my liking at this juncture in the book. I realise she’s tough, and will kill if necessary but the moral code that she obviously has seems momentarily to have been forgotten. Though I really did enjoy how Kell knew that Astrid wasn’t Lila right at the end “Because she said please.”

Highly recommended for readers of Fantasy, YA, and Magic.

My rating:

4.5 stars.

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Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of Victoria Schwab’s The Unbound

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she’s struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn’t easy — not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she’s really safe.

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She’s sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she’ll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

My review:

Once again, Victoria Schwab has charmed me. In my opinion this is even better than the Archived, which is some compliment considering that The Archived was a 4 star read, and well sequel books must be so hard to write. I totally relate to this as I’ve finished my first novel and I’m now at that point when I should be thinking about writing the sequel, but it is so hard to begin. Where do you even start? I love the way in which Victoria Schwab effortlessly managed to re-introduce the back story, and all the characters, and added some new ones too. This book is a wonderful read,  it has been a great help and an inspiration to me.

I was amused by her own self-reflexive review on Goodreads :

Writing this book gave me hives. Finishing it gave me an ulcer. Revising it made me hypertensive.

I am pretty sure it nearly killed me.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t hurt you to read. At least not in the same ways it hurt me to write.”

Well it didn’t hurt me, I did wince a bit in certain parts, but that was only because lady you can and do deliver a story with a punch.

I’m developing a bit of a fan thing going on here for Victoria Schwab. It all started with Vicious, then progressed onto The Archived and now we have The Unbound. Wherever will Victoria take me to next?

What did I like about the Unbound?

The DIALOGUE                                            faces-63516__180

just buzzed with ACTION!

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You could just hear her protagonists talk, see their gestures and movements. The action was full on and at times it made me flinch but in a wow that’s incredible way. Wesley was super cute. I really enjoyed his character in the Archived but somehow in The Unbound he just evolved into super cute Wes, caring, patient, and well just there for Mac.   The romance really develops in the sequel, in fact it smoulders and then sizzles at the end, so be prepared! Mac is such a wonderfully strong female character. After all that has happened to her, she is allowed to crumble, to question her nightmares, to fear where Owen is taking her. But she does it in such a believable way, she manages to pick herself up, and in this fragile state she has the courage to take on Agatha, now that’s brave. What else did I enjoy? Without doubt I admired the almost detective like feel to the second novel, and the way in which Mac touches other people’s lives, and her sense of guilt when she discovers what has befallen these innocent people when her instinctive acts of kindness have unexpected consequences.

My favourite Quotes:

“The funny thing about armor is that it doesn’t just keep other people out. It keeps us in. We build it up around us, not realizing that we’re trapping ourselves.”

 “It’s okay to not be okay,” she says. “When you’ve been through things—whatever those things are—and you don’t allow yourself to not be okay, then you only make it worse. Our problems will tear us apart if we try to ignore them. They demand attention because they need it.”
“And when he presses his lips into the curve of my throat, I can feel his tears on my skin.”
“Caring about someone is scary, Mac. I know. Especially when you’ve lost people. It’s easy to think it’s not worth it. It’s easy to think life will hurt less if you don’t. But it’s not life unless you care about it.”
“People are made up of so many small details. Some—like the smell of cookies baking—we can recreate. Or at least try.”
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Would I recommend it?

Of course. Yes, I’m most definitely a Victoria Schwab  fan. I’d recommend it to readers of  Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance. Well, just about anybody that enjoys a really good read.

My rating. How am I going to rate this?

You guessed it!

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Authors website: http://www.victoriaschwab.com/

Have you read The Unbound? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of The Archived Victoria Schwab

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

My review:

Well before I even start my review I would like to say that I just loved the cover art, and the title too!  In Victoria Schwab’s The Archive the library isn’t just a place to store books, no it is so much more than this, it is a mysterious place where people’s dead loved ones are archived away like precious memories. More and more of them are waking up, and it is Mac’s job as a Keeper to make sure that they return to the Archive. As you can imagine this is no easy task, but Mac has been trained well by her grandfather Da who has every faith in her.

This is the second Victoria Schwab novel that I have read, my first being Vicious, so I had high hopes. Like I said, The Archive is a truly fascinating concept and I think Schawb really pulled it off well.  I think every single person would do what they could to keep the memory of their loves ones who have passed away alive.  Mac is just so relatable, and so  human, of course she can’t bear the thought of her dead brother being locked away in a drawer. But is her brother really her brother anymore? Or is he something else entirely?

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In the Archived we have a world in which the Histories, the Librarians, The Archive, The Returns,  and the Outer exist alongside a family still coming to terms with the sudden death of Mac’s brother.  We sense the personal and individual responses to  grief in Mac’s relationship with her mother and her father. Along the way Mac meets Owen and Wesley, (super cute guy-liner guy), and these three characters drive the plot forward. Mac’s father seems to do his best to encourage Mac to spend time with Wesley. Not the way most fathers behave!  I found this quite touching and cute.

To begin with I  have to admit that I struggled with some of the details of the novel. I found Da a bit confusing, I started off thinking he was Mac’s father but realised that he was in fact her grandfather. I also thought that Mac sounded more like a boy than a girl. BUT, and this is a big BUT. Victoria Schwab knows how to write, she writes amazing characters that draw you into the story and her dialogue is just spot on. I am so jealous of her dialogue! I really enjoyed the second half of the novel, very mysterious and exciting, with a great plot twist, and Mac is just so fearless in solving the mystery. A big high five for Mac!

So overall my advice would be to read The Archived, not to shelve it, go on read it! Most definitely. I will definitely be picking up the second in the series, The Unbound.

Highly recommended for readers of YA fantasy, paranormal, romance, mystery….

My star rating:

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Author’s website – very unusual opening page! See how quickly you can uncrumple the paper.

http://www.victoriaschwab.com/

and her WordPress blog:

http://veschwab.wordpress.com

Have you read The Archived? Do leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of Vicious by Victoria Schwab

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

My review:

A fast paced gripping read. The chapters are short, and punchy throughout so you will not get bored. The characterisation in the novel is brilliant. It is not a flowery read. It certainly made me wince in parts, and don’t expect much in the way of descriptive prose of settings, etc. It left me with a sense of disappointment when the novel ended but I think this is just the very nature of the novel, however it would end would leave you with an empty feeling, a bit like a rollercoaster halting, you’ve taken the ride of a lifetime but now it ends. I have had several thoughts about the ending. I had doubts about it at first, but I came to the conclusion that it would be a brilliant ending cinematically, (the ending is very visual, and graphic), I can just see this becoming a film, it has so much potential. I would really recommend reading this if you like a fast paced exciting read with excellent characters throughout.

My rating:

4 stars

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/20419289-m-mallon

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Have you read Vicious? Do leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx