When I was a little girl, I devoured everything Enid Blyton had ever written but my favourite series was always The Mallory Towers.
No special reason, except that halfway through the first chapter I saw myself as Blyton’s heroine Darrell, and the rest was history.
I’ve come a long way from being nine-year-old Dashie wanting to grow up to be eighteen-year-old Darrell in St. Andrew’s University but the point remains,
a good character is the character that makes us want to be them.
Which is probably why I find myself having much affectionate feels towards my newest wordsmith crush Victoria Schwab, she of the bobby red hair and large rimmed spectacles and finger puppets who is an absolute joy for me to see everyday on Instagram. (Why yes I stalk her on a daily basis, it’s the 21st century we are no longer referred to as creepy, just fangirlish! Get with the times!)
I finished the first book in her brilliant new series about ‘multiple Londons’ A Darker Shade of Magic yesterday and had to just lie down in my bed until I could control my feelings.
This book was hyped to the death on Bookstagram and from the moment I joined I was ever so tempted to see what all the buzz was about and just one look at the premise had me rushing to get my hands on it. I mean who here does not want to read about London? Now what if there was magic and London and a few more Londons? See?
Since everyone and their mother knows what this book is about, I’m going to get straight to the feels.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THE BEGINNING BUT NOT THE END AFTER THIS APTLY PLACED GIF
I have seen mutterings in and around the interwebs that the beginning of ADSOM is slow and as a result may put people off. That was not the case for me, in fact, one of the reasons, (aside from peer pressure) that I deemed this book worthy of a hardback buy was listening to the first lines on Amazon.
I was immediately struck by the humanity of this magical errand boy. He didn’t have to but he chose to indulge the Mad King and that said a lot about who Kell was going to be.
I wasn’t wrong, placing my bets on this boy. Kell was a lot of things, but he was also the boy that couldn’t walk past a homeless person on the side of the pavement without dropping a few coins into the tin.
The way Schwab introduces Rhy is another golden point as far as beginnings go.
Just because he adopted a more modest palette when he was abroad (wishing neither to offend the local royalty nor to draw attention) didn’t mean he had to sacrifice style.
Oh, kings, thought Kell as he fastened the buttons on the coat. He was starting to think like Rhy.
I don’t know about you, but I was immediately thirsty for more. Who is this Rhy? Why yes we do all love a well dressed young man! Who was he to Kell that the magic boy was picking up traits that didn’t belong in his personality?
As far as I’m concerned, the start to this book and the Shades of Magic series was solid, interesting and scintillating enough that you want to be in it for the long haul. Let me tell you something I’ve discovered in my many futile attempts to write stories, no matter how strong your plot may be, nothing is as memorable as the characters in your story. You may be writing the best epic wonder that happens to mankind after the creation, but if I don’t give two shits about your Adam and Eve, you are done, my friend, sayonara!
Which brings me to my love, my life, my everything. Delilah Bard.
Now here’s a strong female character I can put my money on. Remember how in the beginning of this now meandering post I mentioned Darrell and how I wanted to be Darrell?
After almost TWO DECADES since, I now want to be Lila Bard!
She is not strong for the sake of it, she has killed and she probably regrets it, but she’s not going to tell you that. She may be unsure and afraid and lost because life is not going according to plan, but that doesn’t stop her from jumping up to grab whatever chances thrown her way.
Throughout the book, magic errand boy wonder Kell is left amazed and blown over by this amazing girl, and I was with him every time.
I have my pre-ordered copy of the second book in the series; A Gathering of Shadows winking seductively at me from my TBR pile but I thought I’ll get this picky review out before I attempt it.
I think I should stop now, so I shall, pointing out if I may, that anyone who is writing female characters should do a thorough study of Lila Bard. Understand her, walk with her, be her.
Real girls don’t spend a good fifty pages describing the wiggly eyebrows of a love interest if their story is predominantly running from aliens or zombies or blonde, American high school cheerleaders! They do so only after they have kicked significant bum and saved their world and can now sit down for some quality, full-frontal snogging!
Thank you for Lila and Kell and Rhy, Victoria!
And for reigniting my misplaced delusions of talent!
RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥ (Sends marriage proposals to the Two Arnesian Princes)