I've come to the conclusion I'm a very difficult reader to impress. I have friends who seem to constantly be falling in love with books, and swooning over them (in the best possible way), and it is a very rare thing for me to feel that way these days. Truthfully it bums me out, since I can remember being like that when I was younger. Maybe it was a degree in English, or just the sheer volume I've read, or even my overall mood. Whatever it is, I have books I quite like, but they very rarely inspire big reactions from me these days. So when I say I couldn't wait to pick this one back up every time I set it down, or that it made me stay up past my bedtime, and that I've continued to think about the world and characters weeks after finishing it, that's really high praise coming from me.
The world Schwab has created is simultaneously familiar and unique. From Grey London's dirty streets, to the flower scented air of Red London, to the cruel and bleached realm of White London - all of these places felt interesting, lived in, and well realized. I was fascinated by the way they were connected, and the menacing specter of Black London. This is a world I want to know more and more about, and I'm so pleased I will get to visit it again in future books.
And then there are the characters. I have read three of Schwab's books at this point and the one thing they all have in common is rich, morally complex, characters that steal my heart. Even side characters come to life in her works because they all feel as though they have lives bigger than the story they are inhabiting at that moment. The villains were captivating. The heroes were flawed. And I found myself on pins and needles whenever they were in peril.
If you want to read a book with dangerous magic, a series of interesting connected parallel worlds, flawed characters you cheer for even when they make mistakes, and some world class writing that will make you turn pages at lightning speed, this should be the next book on your To Read shelf. Also, there is an amazing coat. No really. The coat is great.