A little while ago I finished writing an paranormal/dark fantasy short story set in contemporary Melbourne, Australia. I was inspired by the changeable weather in Melbourne and fascinated by the strong winter storms that are drawn inland from the southern ocean. These storms can be very unpredictable and wild as the storm front meets the warm inland air between the coast and the Victorian Alps. This volatile weather causes many natural disasters and is associated with both life-given rains during a drought and lightning strikes beginning bushfires. Thunderstorms are an emotionally volatile situation for people waiting to see if blessing or curse results from the storm. I visited Melbourne during the winter months when storms were just as volatile and at a time when societal uncertainty was quite high. The unfamiliar city, social unease and wild weather was potent combination. The story focuses on a newly created ghost and her union with a mythic hound hunting the demonic force that took her own life. The storms are a peripheral landscape to the city itself while the hunt to rid Acedia (an early demonic personification for sorrow) from the city takes primary focus.
I had read many reviews of A Darker Shade of Magic by US author Victoria Schwab and in October 2019, I decided to delve into this popular series. I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building and unique characters of the first book in this trilogy.
A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell, one of two last magicians capable of stepping between three alternate realities. These parallel realities are connected by a city called London and, while magic exists in varying strengths throughout all worlds, it is the fourth world which was the strongest. This fourth reality, known as Black London was consumed by a dangerous magic that overwhelmed the inhabitants and the magicians. When this magic began to leak into the closest Londons, White then Red London, Black London was sealed off to prevent the spread. Now only White and Red London possess any forms of magic while Grey London has virtually none.
Kell, is a magician bound to serve the royal family of Red London but adopted and raised almost like a son but his power as a magician requires his service as a messenger between the ruling monarchs of Red, White and Grey London alongside Holland, his counterpart in White London. During an unscheduled and illegal trading escapade to Grey London, Kell is tricked into smuggling a relic from Black London into Grey London. Events soon spiral out of control, the dangerous and possessive magic from Black London begins to carve swathes through the inhabitants of Grey London. Kell inadvertently becomes entangled with Delilah Bard, a young woman, thief and vagabond, who steals the relic but possessing surprising resistance to its effects. Soon, Kell and Delilah are embroiled in a dangerous game to clear Kell’s good name in Red London and stop the spread of the corruptive magic from Black London by returning the relic and resealing Black London. Throughout this ordeal, Kell and Delilah try to outmanoeuvre Holland, the magician from White London.
A Darker Shade of Magic was an intriguing first instalment of a trilogy rich in world-building and detail. I enjoyed it immensely. A great read!
I’m currently reading the second volume in a 12 part series, a Zodiac themed anthology produced by Aussie Speculative Fiction. Each month, a new anthology featuring that month’s zodiac sign will be released. This January-February, I’m reading Aquarius and because it’s also my own star sign. The Aquarius anthology features many unique interpretations of the water-carrier star sign by Australian and New Zealand speculative fiction writers. You can read more about the Aquarius volume here.
I have also contributed a short story to the Taurus Anthology which will be released in a few months. I also wrote a brief post on my inspiration and research behind the short story.
If you’re interested in reading the Aussie Speculative Fiction Zodiac Anthologies, you can find copies the Aquarius and Capricorn Anthologies through Books2Read with direct links to your preferred bookstore.