Spellbinding: A Darker Shade of Magic

When I read the Night Circus 5 years ago, I was enchanted by the storytelling and the magic that was entwined into each page. With this in mind, I didn’t think a magical world could really be created in the same way, with the element of mystery that keeps the reader hooked throughout. However, I was pleased to find that A Darker Shade of Magic sat in this same category, providing a world that is very familiar, with a twist of the fantastical.

And before all you Harry Potter fans cry out about overlooking Hogwarts, this genre of magic sits in its own category away from the adventures of the Chosen One.

I found the narrative descriptive enough to immerse you in the ritualistic performance of magic, whilst not weighing the reader down with description. This meant that you had plenty of capacity to imagine new characters, new worlds, and new adventures.

Following a soul who was born with magic running through his veins, we are transported between Grey, Red and White London, each with its own characteristics and traits. As with most fictional stories, there is a fight between good and bad, with the all-consuming dark magic being cast as the villain of the tale. Although this is predictable, particularly with its character being cast in jet black, the childlike believe that good reigns supreme helps to justify your hope that the dark will be defeated.

Kell is not only the guide for the characters within the book, but for the reader, as he instructs how to use magic in these differing worlds. And as in most texts, he is a flawed protagonist, who can’t help but feed a dark trait to smuggle artifacts between the world, which only serves to land him in an unwanted situation; he’s a perfect example of how there’s good and bad in us all.

Sometimes, particularly in times of crisis in our very real world, it’s nice to enter a magical one within the pages of a great book and to see how in the end it is the good that wins the battle.

A Darker Shade of Magic: V. E. Schwab

Running in Circles; End of the World Running Club

Apocalyptic books often have your heart racing and adrenaline pumping as you scramble for logical conclusions of what you would do at the end of the world. And although End Of The World Running Club delivered this at times, the vast majority of the book left me feeling fairly indifferent.

I think this is largely down to the author making the characters fairly unlikable; rather than encouraging the reader to will for their survival. I found myself wondering whether I really cared what happened to the group.

Usually I am easily able to paint a picture of a character in my head and they quickly take shape as I turn from page to page. However right to the last sentence, I wouldn’t have been able to describe the protagonist, nor can I recall his name even now. I believe this was probably why I felt unconnected to the story and the direction it took.

Yes the story was interesting and came from a new angle in a very crowded category, but no it didn’t deliver an electrifying read. Although it was the end of the world, it certainly didn’t feel like it once I reached the book’s conclusion.

The End of the World Running Club: Adrian J Walker