On Sept. 3, New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab released “Tunnel of Bones,” the sequel to her paranormal young adult novel “City of Ghosts.” But Schwab doesn’t just write novels for younger audiences.
She goes by Victoria Schwab when writing for kids, and she’s known as V.E. Schwab when writing for adults. She has a growing list of books for both young audiences and for adults, from “Monsters of Verity,” a fantasy duology for young adults, to “The Near Witch,” a dark fantasy novel for those a little older.
Schwab is much like the popular fantasy author Neil Gaiman, who also writes for all ages. He has written the children’s novel “Coraline,” the young adult novel “The Graveyard Book,” the adult novel “Stardust” and the cult-classic graphic novel series “The Sandman,” which has no age limit — and that’s just naming a few of his works.
With several books treasured by adults and children alike, Gaiman has become one of the most prolific fantasy authors of our time, and now Schwab is following in his footsteps. She doesn’t yet have the massive amounts of published work that Gaiman has, but she’s getting there, and much like his books, her words are capable of influencing readers of every age.
“Villains” by V.E. Schwab
There are two books in this fantasy series: “Vicious” and “Vengeful,” plus a short story called “Warm Up.”
“Vicious” is about Victor and Eli, who are college roommates who both had reason to believe that a person could develop supernatural abilities after going through a near death experience. But when their academic research moves beyond the classroom, things take a tragic turn, and 10 years later, Victor and Eli are now each other’s superpowered arch nemeses, both on the hunt for revenge.
This is not a story about superheroes. Neither Victor nor Eli are the good guy. As the series title suggests, this is a story about the villains, and almost everyone in the series is a morally grey person. Schwab is plainly vicious in her writing of this series, but she still manages to make the main characters likable and sympathetic.
“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
Along with his popular fairytale-like books, Gaiman is known for writing dark, complex fantasy novels for adults, like “American Gods.” With the “Villains” series, Schwab has shown her readers that she is capable of writing dark, complex novels, much like Gaiman. “Vicious” is a book about betrayal, jealousy and revenge, and the gritty and violent story continues in the sequel, “Vengeful.”
“Shades of Magic” by V.E. Schwab
The “Shades of Magic” series are fantasy novels that consist of “A Darker Shade of Magic,” “A Gathering of Shadows” and “A Conjuring of Light.” The first book is about Kell and Lila, who are from two different worlds, because “A Darker Shade of Magic” is set in a realm of magic with four parallel worlds. Each realm is very different from the other, but their Londons are all located in the same geographic location, making them the epicenter of travel for the few people left who can traverse between worlds.
There’s Black London, which has been isolated from the rest of the worlds after magic took over. There is White London, where magic is abused. There’s Grey London, where there is no magic — this is where Lila is from. And there is Red London, which is rich with magic, and this is where Kell is from.
Kell is one of only a few people left in all four worlds who is capable of traveling between them, and when he discovers a magic stone from Black London that could destroy his world, he and adventure-seeking Lila embark on a quest to return it.
“Such is the quandary when it comes to magic, that it is not an issue of strength but of balance. For too little power, and we become weak. Too much, and we become something else entirely.”
The “Shades of Magic” story isn’t as confusing as it sounds. It is a complex story, but Schwab makes it easy to digest and fun to read. Each parallel world is mesmerizing, and every character has its charm.
Schwab is also in the process of writing prequel graphic novels to go with the “Shades of Magic” series, with the second graphic novel set to be released this year.
By doing this she is showing readers that she isn’t afraid to step outside of her comfort zone and take risks, much like Gaiman, who has written multiple graphic novels, which led to one of his most acclaimed series: “The Sandman.”
Schwab has set up a fast-paced and unique story within the pages of the “Shades of Magic” trilogy and prequels. Even though Schwab has released this series under her V.E. Schwab moniker, it is a story that readers of all ages will find entertaining.
“City of Ghosts” by Victoria Schwab
“City of Ghosts” is the first book in Schwab’s latest young adult adventure, and the second book, “Tunnel of Bones,” was just released. In the first book, Cassidy Blake’s parents are avid ghost hunters, but it’s Cassidy who truly sees beyond the veil. Her best friend, Jacob, is a ghost. But Cassidy learns that not every ghost is friendly like Jacob. Her parents take her to Scotland to film a paranormal TV show, where she meets the Red Raven, a powerful and evil ghost determined to return to life.
The first book is a fun read, and even without seeing Schwab’s first name spelled out on the cover, it’s easy to figure out that this series is aimed at middle school readers. But the writing isn’t oversimplified, and there are hints of melancholy to come, so it’s not just middle schoolers who will enjoy this book.
“Every time I get nervous or scared, I remind myself that every good story needs twists and turns. Every heroine needs an adventure.”
Reading one of Schwab’s children’s books is much like reading one of Gaiman’s books for children. Their stories aren’t similar, but anyone can enjoy them. It doesn’t matter how old you are. The adventures that Cassidy and Jacob discover in Scotland will have readers of every age turning the pages as fast as they can and ready to read “Tunnel of Bones.”
It’s clear that this is just the beginning for Schwab. Whether she goes by V.E. Schwab or Victoria Schwab, anyone will be able to find a book of hers to enjoy.