Sunday, 10 January 2016

All the Colours of the Rainbow - A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab

There are a lot of London stories. It's easy to see why, it's an unusual place, a sprawling urban city with vast public transport systems, too many people squashed together among expensive modern buildings and ancient houses and streets.

Neil Gaiman's London Below in Neverwhere, Ben Aaronvitch's contemporary urban fantasy of deadly magic in his Peter Grant series, Paul Cornell's London Falling and now V.E.Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic.

In Schwab's world there are many London's, a young man with the power to travel between them, Kell, names them for their different shades, Grey London (our own, magic-less reality), Red London (Kell's home, a magic loved world of beauty and relative harmony), White London (a bloody, city of war hell bent on the power of magic) and Black London, a lost and destroyed world of deadly and dangerous magic.

An imaginative, colourful (sorry) and very fun novel from Schwab. Entertaining characters with a refreshingly bold and deeply loving relationship between the two young men of Kell and Prince Rhy. Not to mention the fantastically fun and believable ambitious thief Lila, seeking adventure and loves a good fight, as well as men's clothes.

It was not just the excellent premise and fun worlds Schwab has created, as the London's are perhaps not as detailed and immersive as Aaronvitch's Peter Grant series, but they are appealing, interesting and very entertaining with large scope to discover more about them in the books to come. But Schwab's work is a refreshingly modern fantasy series with her clearly very purposeful attempts at subverting the gender tropes we might expect from a fantastical adventure magic romp. Proper fun.

Very highly recommend for a great fun read, a perfect book to start the year with. And the sequel A Gathering of Shadows is out in February.

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