The older I get, the more I hope to relive those moments of sensawunda I experienced as a teen when I first began reading fantasy and science fiction. We’re more easily impressed when we’re young, but as we read more widely and begin to cover some of the same literary ground, a natural progression begins. Those feelings of awe and immersion grow ever more elusive. I’ve come to treasure it as a reader, and I’ve become much more attuned to it as a writer. Early on in a writing career, we’re often trying to master technique. Don’t get me wrong. Mastering technique is a noble goal, but it’s not all there is to the craft of writing. Not by a long shot. Just as important as technique (I might even say more important) are the ideas explored in our fiction, be they elements of world, character, magic, plot, or what have you. Unique ideas are hard to come by. It takes a lot of work as a writer, and a lot of searching as a reader.
Imagine my delight, then, when I came across V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. The book had been on my radar for some time. Or rather, Victoria as a rising star in fantasy had been. I didn’t actually know that much about the book itself. I kept meaning to look into it, but got sidetracked by this or that. And then kismet struck. I was sitting on a panel at Phoenix ComicCon last year, and so was Victoria. As panelists do, we introduced ourselves and our latest projects. And when it was Victoria’s turn, she told us about her series, which featured a story of intrigue and blood magic set in not just one London, but four.