A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabI’ve been in the mood to read a fantasy book for a while now and I’m happy to have started with A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.

In this story, there isn’t only one London, but instead there’s four. First there’s Grey London, a dull and plain version of the city without magic. Next there’s Red London, a city filled with vibrant life, color, and magic. White London is fraught with a ruthless magical war. Lastly, there’s Black London, a place whose doors have closed forever.

Kell is one of the last and only magicians who can travel between the worlds and he serves as a messenger for and member of the royalty of Red London. Unbeknownst to the King and Queen, Kell secretly (and illegally) smuggles items from each of the worlds back into his own. When he accidentally smuggles an artifact from Black London that is dangerously powerful, he realizes that he’s in huge trouble. As Kell does his best to dispose of the stone, he meets Lila Bard, a bold and incredibly capable thief, who joins him on this adventure.

A Darker Shade of MagicLondon is one of my favorite cities in the world and I was excited to see it brought to life in multiple different worlds. I thought that Schwab did a wonderful job creating extremely interesting and likable characters. I especially admired Kell’s honor and the Lila’s bravery throughout the story.

I really enjoyed this fast-paced adventure and am already looking forward to opening up the next book in the series, A Gathering of Shadows.

Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories than Americans – The Atlantic

Dream by DayLast week, The Atlantic came out with a very attention-grabbing article titled, “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories Than Americans” written by Colleen Gillard. Gillard explains that British “…history informs fantastical myths and legends, while American tales tend to focus on moral realism.” This is an intriguing concept that immediately had me reading further.

The stories of Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn are both brought up, each representing their respective countries of origination. One side focuses on imagination while the other focuses on realistic settings of everyday life. Gillard brings up the idea that American fantasies differ from British ones because of these themes of realism and lessons learned.

Throughout the article Gillard goes on to explain how history and religion have shaped storytelling in each country and how fantasy is proven to be an important factor in childhood development. The article closes by mentioning recently popular American fantasy novels including The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. Each of these stories is part of a new trend of fantasy filled with dark twists.

As an American, I have to say that I’m jealous of these British childhood stories filled with fantasy. On the other hand though, I was exposed to Harry Potter and other British children’s books at an early age (thanks mom!) so I can’t say I missed out much.

To read more, here’s a link to the article: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/why-the-british-tell-better-childrens-stories/422859/

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the DawnI didn’t realize that The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is the first book of a series so I was very confused when I was winding down to the final pages and the story wasn’t wrapping up. Upon finishing the book, and reading a very frustrating finish, I freaked out, shouting to my roommate about the irritating ending. What a cliffhanger of an ending it was and now I can’t wait to read the next one. Ahdieh totally hooked me and the sequel doesn’t come out until May of 2016! Let the waiting begin…

I wasn’t sure about The Wrath and the Dawn at first. Do you ever read a book and get so sucked into the smoothly constructed writing that you forget you’re reading? This story wasn’t one of those for me. BUT, and that’s a big but, I really enjoyed the book anyway and was completely enthralled by the ongoing relationship between Shahrzad and the boy king Khalid. A conflicting relationship of hate and passion, honesty and secrets, it’s definitely intriguing.

This story begins with the marriage between Shahrzad and Khalid. A mysterious young man, the king has been marrying a new bride each day and has had them each executed at dawn of the following morning. After a dear friend marries, and dies, at the command of the king, Shahrzad volunteers to marry him. Defying all odds she lives through the first dawn and vows to get revenge for her lost friend. The closer she gets to Khalid, the more conflicted her mission becomes…

Ahdieh’s debut novel is a good one, and with themes from Arabian Nights and Aladdin, there are elements of fantasy as well.