Tea and Tales with Cate and Allison discussion

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
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ADSOM - Aug 2015 > A Darker Shade of Magic - Discussion

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message 1: by Catie (last edited Aug 19, 2015 05:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
I hope everyone has been enjoying the last month of Summer. Seems like these warm months fly by so quickly!

We still have a week or so before the end of the month, but I wanted to check in on this month's book, A Darker Shade of Magic. We'll be posting discussion questions and thoughts in a few days. So I hope those who have finished the book will share their opinions. If you haven't finished, that's totally fine as well, we still would love to hear about your progress and what you think!

P.S. We'll also be posting a poll for September's book choice. So make sure to cast your vote!

Xo Catie

Casey | 24 comments Hi Everyone!

I just finished reading A Darker Shade of Magic yesterday, so I am still processing it in my mind a bit. I thought that it was a great read and I am definitely looking forward to the second in the series. This book was written in a way that it could be a stand alone novel, but it also felt like a teaser once I had finished it. V.E. Schwab did a wonderful job creating the worlds in this novel, and introducing the characters, and the reader can't help but want to continue on with everything.
I thought that this book moved along at a nice, steady pace. There was plenty of action to keep the reader engaged and on the edge of their seat (it sounds corny perhaps, but it was very exciting). Sometimes when I am reading books with a lot of action, I find that "fight scenes" can distract me from the plot and can be hard to follow. I thought that V.E. Schwab did a great job with these scenes. She described them in a way that wasn't too complex for the reader to follow, and didn't drag them out too long.
What did everyone else think of the action scenes? Did you feel that it helped or hindered the plot?
I also thought that V.E. Schwab did a beautiful job with the tone of the book. Her use of colour (or lack thereof) and physical descriptions painted such drastically different visions of each "London" in my mind. I thought that V.E. did a great job of bringing out the darker tones of this novel with her language and imagery, which added to the darkness of the story. It almost had a gothic feel to me.
Which particular imagery stood out to you in the book? Was there a "London" that you connected to more than the other? I personally loved reading the parts involving White London. It just had such a cold, creepy, "Eastern European" vibe that I could picture so vividly in my mind.
I really loved the unique, and differing characters that V.E. introduced in the book. I enjoyed that the reader was able to get to know each character throughout the novel as the plot developed, and a little more was revealed as the story unfolded. At the end of the book, I didn't want to leave these characters. I am so happy that there are more books coming so that I will be able to see where V.E. takes them. I really enjoyed the theme that was present throughout the book that family is not always conventional, and the importance of friendship and kindness.
Which character(s) did you connect with most in the book? Which relationship(s) did you most admire and which direction do you hope to see them develop? Are their people in your life whom you consider family, who are not blood relatives?
I really appreciated that in this first book in the series, V.E. didn't pursue much of a "romantic" theme. It was actually quite refreshing that she explored the themes of friends and family more deeply (even though I love me a good romance). I loved the relationship between Kell and his brother Rhy, and their devotion to one another. I enjoyed the relationship that developed between Kell and Lila, and how they were able to band together and support one another on each other's journey. I felt so sorry for Holland, and I hope that he survives and that V.E. is able to offer him some redemption! I am also super intrigued about Lila's past, and her missing eye, and her untapped magical ability. I am also hoping that we are able to see more of Rhy and his role in the coming story!
This book was so different than anything I have read recently (or ever really) and it truly was an escape from reality. I loved that it tied in aspects from many different genres and I can't wait for the second book to be released! I'm also looking forward to hearing everyone else's thoughts!

Casey <3

Katie (kkpritchard) | 18 comments Hi everyone!

I loved A Darker Shade of Magic and was glad to read such a great pick. The four different Londons were intriguing to me and caught my interest right away. I felt that the world building was very well done. I did have trouble keeping them separate a tiny bit at first- especially with the Mad King and the Prince Regent in Grey London. But I soon got them all sorted out. The magic and the terminology I found interesting without being too technical. I loved the use of color for the different Londons, with the aura of each and the clothing the characters wore. It felt magical or eerie (depending on which London it was) and not cartoonish, plus was a great way to separate each city while reading. I liked the way Lila described the four Londons- Kell London, boring London, creepy London and dead London. I would have loved to know even more about the history and politics of each country association with its respective London.

I agree with Casey, that written descriptions of fight scenes are hard to follow and I often find myself skimming over them. But I felt like V.E. Schwab did a good job writing the fight scenes, so my mind didn't wander.

I connected most with Red London. I loved the idea of the elemental magic that wasn’t going to suck you dry and kill you, and also was fascinated by the dynamics between the royal family and Kell- why they chose to make him a part of their family and how they felt close to him, but at the same time needed his abilities.

I'd actually say I connected most with Kell in the book, which is unique for me as I usually connect with the lead female character. I found it difficult to connect to Lila. She was witty and funny, but I'm more like Kell than Lila. Also, I struggled to really believe, or invest in, the bit of romance between Kell and Lila. I sympathized with Kell's struggle in feeling like he didn't belong as part of the royal family, but feeling guilty as well because they'd taken him in. I'd love to know the backstory there and where he really came from! I hope V.E. Schwab reveals the story of Kell's parents, etc, in the sequel(s). Loved Kell and Rhy's relationship. Rhy was adorable, even though immature at times. I really felt that he unconditionally loved his brother. There is one person in my own life who I consider family but aren't blood. She was there for me when my family wasn't and has unconditionally accepted me when they haven't, and those are the aspects I feel have made Kell and Rhy truly brothers. I was so glad that Kell was able to save Rhy.

I thought the interaction between Kell and Lila, where she gets upset at him for not being grateful for what he has, for being taken in by the royal family, was interesting. I understood what she was saying and where she was coming from because she’d had nothing and had to fend for herself, but I do sympathize with Kell feeling used and like an outcast, wondering where he really comes from and where he truly belongs. I hope Schwab has a good plot in mind for where to take that, because she made me care about Kell and want him to find where he belongs. Definitely makes me want to know more about the secrets of the Antari and why they’re dying out.
I must say that the twins of white London were chilling villains, particularly Athos. He is disturbing, but Schwab does a good job making him so. I did feel that Astrid paled in comparison with her brother. I felt horrible for Holland, but I felt he was a little too flat. I would have liked to have more information or backstory for him, but maybe Schwab will be going into that in the sequel.

On a side note, I switched between the audiobook and the hardcover and the narrator for the audiobook was...interesting. It was a British man reading it and while some of the accents weren't bad, the way he read Lila was awful, I felt. That might have influenced part of my problem of why I couldn't connect with her. He sort of made her sound like a young boy. Hard to explain without hearing it. Just the way he read her would make me not recommend the audiobook.

It's great to be discussing books with people, I've missed it!!


withlovefromallie (bookloversnest) | 131 comments Mod
Hi Casey (and everyone)!

These are such thoughtful questions! I actually had to take some time to think them over before I posted my response. Thanks for provoking such a great discussion!

I loved seeing the different Londons! What a unique and interesting idea, and seeing the city from so many different perspectives was amazing. I loved them all for different reasons, and I can't wait to see Black London in an upcoming book (fingers crossed)! White London was really intriguing, and I would have liked to see more of it. It seemed liked the most complex, and I think Schwab could have flushed it out a bit more. I got Grey London in the quiz, and no surprise that I love it! It's so Dickensian!

I thought the characters were OK. Kell and Lila made for a great pair, and I loved them together. I thought some of the secondary characters were a bit weaker (like Rhy and even Hollard). I think Schwab could have added more depth to make them less one note.

My biggest problem with the book is that it shatters suspension of disbelief quite a few times, which felt frustrating and annoying to me. Whether it was something simple (like why Lila didn't take the other coins/items she'd stolen before burning down the ship) or something big (like how Kell knew he was actually able to build a door to Black London and send Holland through it), there were a lot of unanswered questions and unexplained circumstances. To me, this feels like sloppy writing, and it's kind of a betrayal to the reader. The reader and writer essentially have a contract: I'll suspend my disbelief and go along with your fiction as long as it is consistent and makes sense within the world you create. And I think Schwab breaks that contract, which felt like a letdown to me.

What did everyone else think? Are you excited for the sequel?

Tara | 12 comments I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the sequel. Like you all, I want to know Kell's and Lila's full back stories. Oh, and a little more Black London would be nice too.

As for the relationship between Kell and Lila, although there were a few hints at a possible romance, in the end, I feel like they may develop more of a brother-sister relationship with each other. Especially after Lila met Rhy for the first time. There was a little chemistry between the two of them. I mean, she blushed!

Casey | 24 comments Tara, I totally picked up on the potential chemistry between Rhy and Lila as well! I am really interested in learning more of the back stories in the sequel. I have a feeling that Lila may also be Antari... the missing eye and her ability to travel between worlds just seems too mysterious to me!

Allison, I definitely can relate to what you are saying about unanswered questions and unexplained circumstances throughout this book. I felt that sometimes because the plot was moving so quickly, the reader was often just left to go along with the events without explanation as to how or why something was happening. It was almost like the reader was just plunked right into the middle of the story, and all of the action detracted from development of everything else. I am really hoping that the second book devotes more to the "how and the why".

withlovefromallie (bookloversnest) | 131 comments Mod
Yes, I really hope so, too! Do we know when the sequel is coming out? From IG, it looks like she's currently writing something right now!

Casey | 24 comments On Goodreads, "A Gathering of Shadows" is expected to be published for February, 2016! It has a complete synopsis, so this sounds promising. From the looks of it, a third book is also expected to be released as well! :) I love getting books when they are just released. Sooo much anticipation!

Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
Is it crazy that I already have the book on pre-order from Amazon?? :D

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