Grace Cavanaugh ~ Staff Writer

There are plenty of amazing books out there about magic. This week, I want to talk about V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, the first book in her Shades of Magic trilogy.

These books caught my eye every time I went to the Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, but I never thought about them when I had money to buy books. In fact, none of them were on my “To Be Read” list.

When I finally bought my own copy of A Darker Shade of Magic, it took me even longer to start reading it. As college students, we do not have much free time. Eventually, though, I started reading the book, and then I could not put it down.

The blurb on the back of the book talks about a magician, Kell, and a thief, Lila Bard, and the different Londons they live in. Kell called these Londons by their main colors and their magical abilities.

Red London, Kell’s home, has a glowing red river and magic is strong. Grey London is the London most real people are familiar with, the one in England. White London is a magic-starved city that is slowly dying. Black London was consumed by magic and cast away from the other Londons.

This book was well-written and had easily-likable characters; in fact, I got attached to many of the side characters. Be warned, though: Schwab does not pull her punches. No character is safe in these books, and the death count only rises after the first one. Schwab’s worlds, too, are rich in description and lore, and each section in the different Londons are even toned to match the setting.

The magic in these books is not entirely unique, because they rely on “spells” and talk about magic being in the blood. Blood is used in plenty of magic throughout the book, but there are some other sources, like a stone and inherent ability. Most of the magicians could probably be equated to the benders from the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series as they had control over specific elements.

While I will not spoil the ending, I will say that I could not wait to get my hands on the second book, A Gathering of Shadows, which I will start the second I finish Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes books with magic, as well as anyone who wants to read about a strong, independent female lead. If magic is not for you, Schwab is in the midst of a new series about superheroes. The first book is titled Vicious and is available at Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. If books altogether are not your thing, Schwab has teamed up with artist Andrea Olimpieri to produce a graphic novel series, also titled Shades of Magic.

Happy reading!