First Pages: A Darker Shade of Magic
I discovered A Darker Shade of Magic and its trilogy by V.E. Schwab from a recommendation by one of our patients for Mini Me. It was a great discovery as it has quickly become one of her favorite series. It has four different parallel Londons, intrigue, a traveller (Kell), and King George III. Yes, that King George, the one that’s also in Hamilton. And did I mention London and the four dimensions?
So, since I haven’t read this trilogy (which I prefer not to have read the books for the First Pages series so I can give an honest critique about how good the first pages are), I may get some details wrong but I can immediately sense why Mini Me would love this series as it encompasses many features of fantasy that she loves. And it is a fantasy world that is based in reality, which all the best kind of fictional fantasy worlds do—after all, how can we suspend our disbelief if we don’t have a starting point?
The first few paragraphs establish the world right away—revealing different dimensions, revealing Kell as a traveler, and adding on a bit of a fashionable coat as the cherry on top. Kell’s voice draws you in right away, as well as the fact that you just HAVE to find out why he is sent to give a message to King George III, who is mad in this dimension (our dimension, per Mini Me) as well. But why are there four Londons? And why can Kell travel them? And where is this all leading?
There is so much pulling the reader in right away.
Plus, it’s set in London, one of my favorite cities. I’ve always been a bit of an Anglophile, even in high school, where I had errant dreams of going to college in England. My mom convinced me (and I agreed) to go locally and then I could always do a semester abroad. That semester abroad ended up being a summer abroad to study Shakespeare. But I’ve made many trips to England over the years (six total, I believe) including our recent trip last summer, where I finally fell in love with Paris too.
And I have a soft spot in my heart for portals and time or dimensional travel, so this series is definitely on my TBR list now. If I can pry Mini Me’s copies away from her, that is.
First Pages note: I started the First Lines and First Pages series in November 2017 as a homage to National Novel Writing Month. In the tradition of one of my previous writing groups, I decided to 'share' the first lines of successful middle grade and YA novels in order to figure out what made them successful first pages. I posted as many as I could in November, and now post the series on the first of every month (or close to it). Please let me know in the comment section if you have any First Pages book recommendations.