I’m starting the new revamped Literary Empress off with A Darker Shade of Magic —because that book changed how I see story. It also sparked the thought that maybe YA isn’t for me anymore, it’s not meant for me at 28… But ADSOM is.
Now, ADSOM sat on my shelf for a year before I packed it up in a suitcase. See, I can’t talk about this book without a travel antidote. I actually started ADSOM on the way back from London (please note the irony of this), from my first trip to Europe. I had a head cold and thought my ears might burst (because it was that bad but I’m stubborn) and was freaking out but ADSOM made a 12-hour flight seem like minutes. Some part of me wants to have read ADSOM before visiting London, but another part says it wasn’t time. Time. It’s the one thing that I will forever be indebted to; because books find you exactly when you need them— and in that moment, I needed ADSOM.
Why? That’s the obvious question, right? The answer: I can’t explain. It’s just something; a longing, a hope, a thought that there has to be some way to express what I’m feeling— and I found that in Kell. If Katniss was my teen twin, Kell is my 20’s twin. It’s simple; I just get that character. Do you ever get that moment where you see pieces of yourself in a character? (If there’s a particular character, please comment below. I’m curious!) That’s what ADSOM was to me. For over a year people had tried to convince me to read ADSOM. Everyone said I would love Lila; beautiful, headstrong, badass Lila Bard— and while she’s great, I needed Kell. I get Kell. That is such a weird thing to say with fictional characters, but I connected to Kell in a way I’ve been waiting for a very long time. Because I get him: his logic, his duty, his love for family, and maybe I’m partial to the sweet boyish charm of a redhead. I can’t express it— hence why I stopped reviewing— there are some things that just can’t transpose onto paper. This is one of those moments. If someone asked what character in ALL that I’ve read do I relate to most, it would be Kell. That curious but loyal recklessness with a purpose, Kell.
But all of that is a personal experience, which is why so many people can read the same book and have different reactions. Maybe yours was different. On that 12 hour plane flight home I had the chance to see why I had such a passion for story, because at every age we need a bit of magic to get through the mundane or the restless. If I believed in the need for new adult before, after reading ADSOM I wanted to be more vocal about it. Here’s the thing, age ranges are one of the external factors that define us, and we all go through these transitions differently, but there will always be a need to gather together and fight off the bad days. I would put ADSOM in the NA category because look at Kell and Lila- two similar ages, two very different outcomes and drives— Kell is still figuring himself out and Lila knows what she wants and is in pursuit of it.
This is the point where I could talk about the pacing, the story, the characters… but most of you already know that. I was late coming to this book but it found me when I needed it. That’s really what this post is about, how books (or magic) find you when you need them, when you think the world is tough or that you’re broken, that it is in those moments we connect with something on a very different level.
I plan to read A Gathering of Shadows soon, but timing is everything. Like I’ll miss that jump from one world to the next if I’m a second off. So I’m waiting. And it’s burning a hole in my pocket but I know it’s worth it.
People talk about gateway books, and I guess A Darker Shade of Magic has been mine for this period of my life. Like jumping between worlds and not knowing what the future has in store for me. What’s a gateway book you’ve encountered? And how did it change you?
Until the next time,
The Literary Empress
PS. There is ONE thing I would like to point out about ADSOM: that we’re all inhabitants of that world, because Lila talks about our world— Grey London. So when you need a moment to smile about something, just imagine if one day you could see the other Londons.