Truth be told, I didn’t read as much as I wanted to this month. Work kept from words (but money means I can buy more books!), but I did enjoy what I devoured.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.
I’ve had this book for a while (and it’s sequel I bought the day it came out), but I finally gave in and read this on the insistence of a friend. I’m not usually one for fantasy, but parallel words, working magic, smugglers and thieves? Yes, please.
I loved it. Couldn’t put it down. I was lucky enough to meet Victoria a couple months ago at a book event, and she’s pretty freaking awesome as a person in addition to boasting one of the finest talents for world-building, voice, and basically everything. She’s got the Word Magic.
One of my favorite literary things is the combination of magic and science. This is more in the realm of physics than my medical tendancies dictate, but I love that the parallel worlds make sense within their own existence and within the connections to each other.
So it should come as no surprise to you that the next book I read was the next in the series.
A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.
In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.
Can we talk about the cover art for a minute? I love them. So graphic, so simplistic, so impactful.
This round I loved how detailed Red London (and the world outside it) is. I loved the inclusion of other cultures, the different dynamics in the magic system (in use and in belief), and again–couldn’t put it down.
I texted said friend the day I finished it, equally elated, pissed, and a shade jealous. It’s going to be a long year until book 3, but damn, am I looking forward to it.
Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig
I read the first Miriam Black book, Blackbirds, a year or two ago, and I absolutely loved it. I generally don’t go for first-person present, but Wendig is fast-paced, hard-hitting, and Miriam is a straight up badass chick.
Occasionally, I don’t know why it takes me SO LONG to continue in a series I enjoy. Also, more fucking gorgeous cover art. Damn. I picked up books 2 and 3 (The Cormorant) on sale.
Miriam is trying. Really, she is.
But this whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. She lives on Long Beach Island all year around. Her home is a run-down double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a check-out girl. And her relationship with Louis–who’s on the road half the time in his truck–is subject to the piss and vinegar Miriam brings to everything she does.
It just isn’t going well. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability–to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them–in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.
Then comes one bad day that turns it all on her ear.
I had a moment of sympathy when this one started with Miriam as a checkstand clerk. Boy, do I know THAT life. And I’ve dreamed many a day (and night) of doing exactly what Miriam does: saying Fuck You and walking away.
But Miriam has bigger fish to fry when she stumbles into the future victim of a serial killer, and well… Miriam just has to change fate. Again.
I’m eager to see where this series goes. I already have the next book, and I’m eager to get started.
I ended March by picking up Doctor Mutter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. I wanted a change of pace from fiction, and I’m paying a visit to the Mutter Museum in mid-April, so I wanted to properly fangirl. If you’ve been here for any amount of time, you know I’m obsessed with medical history, specifically late 1700 to early 1900. Those Victorians, I tell you what.
I’m really, really enjoying it. In fact, I might just be a little in love with Thomas Dent Mutter.
Between The Grand Philadelphia Adventure and The Day Job, I’m not sure how much I’ll manage in April, but I’m so looking forward to vacation and unwinding.
What did you read this month?
Until next time,