Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V. E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)
Publisher: Tor Books
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped. (Source: Goodreads)
Kell is a traveller between worlds, he delivers messages between the different versions of London. His home world, Red London, is strong and wealthy, the other two realms, White London and Grey London, aren’t as strong. White London is violent and struggling with its magic, while Grey London is lacking in magic altogether. Kell is an Antari, a blood magician, and is able to travel between these places using blood magic. While he’s officially supposed to deliver messages he also smuggles in exchange for trinkets. One particular trinket almost gets him killed however, and he flees to Grey London. There he meets Lila, a pickpocket with dreams of to become a pirate and find adventure. She steals this dangerous trinket and threads their journeys together, perhaps finding just the adventure she’s been looking for.
You may remember this book from my WoW post a few weeks back, or maybe you even read my mini-review of the first 5 parts of the book (you should probably read/reread that to get a feel of where I’m coming from). I can tell you that not much has changed for me in regards to this book, I still want MORE. This book is thrilling. There is magic, pirates, travelling between dimensions, and a friendship that really makes you want to see more. I want more Lila and Kell, more Kell and Rhy, more Lila and Rhy. It took me a while to start this book up, mostly because I was rereading 130 pages that I’d already read (and I was going on no sleep after working 2 overnight shifts) but once I was back into the flow of it I couldn’t put this book down (like literally had to have the book pulled from my hands so that I’d eat dinner). I’m not a fantasy reader, but this is the kind of book that could change that, could make anyone fall in love with fantasy. I WANT MORE.
The plot, as I’ve said, focuses on magic, pirates, and travelling between dimensions. When the action really gets started, with Lila and Kell moving into their adventure, things don’t change in that regard, only getting more exciting, more interesting, and more mysterious. The dangerous magic of Black London is really the focus of the book, and the way that Kell and Lila interact with it. I think that Schwab built the world(s) of the story so well that it really created a sense of just how bad this magic was. Or rather clever as Lila puts it. One of my absolute favourite things about this book was that there was not a cliffhanger ending, something I was scared there would be. There wasn’t a cliffhanger, but there was an open ended nature to it, which makes sense considering there’s another book on its way. I’m not a big series reader, and cliffhangers really kill me so I was pleased with how Schwab left things. I was also happy to see that while there is some wrapping up there is a lot left unsolved, like Lila and Kell’s histories, what exactly happened to Black London, etc. I’m really excited to see where she takes the story in the next book with regard to these elements in particular.
The characters in this book are amazing. Really, if anything, they’ve gotten a lot more interesting and intricate than when I talked about them in my previous mini-review. Kell’s past isn’t really delved into too much, but the intrigue only increases as you begin to wonder what exactly he is. You also get to see so many different pieces of him. His arrogance and his softness. His relationship with Kell, and the one he develops with Lila are really touching and I can’t wait to see more of this in the next book. Lila’s past is also unexplored but there are more pieces to her added in regards to it. You hear a little about her family. I love Lila because she is just a straight-up badass, she’s basically everything a pirate should be. Another really fantastic character that I didn’t mention before was Rhy, Kell’s brother. You don’t see a whole lot about him, but he definitely stands out. I want more Rhy, and I believe Schwab has confirmed he’ll be a POV character next time (amazing). There’s one thing about this book which gave me a little thrill. Schwab keeps minor characters involved, and you’re constantly reminded of them. They come back unexpectedly, which was really amazing.
My few tiny complaints are: the action wrapped up a little too quickly for me. Things just seemed so cleaned up by the end of the book. I know they’re not, but maybe there should have been a little hint of disaster somewhere in the final section of the book. The other is that by the end of the book the fights seemed to be losing a little steam. They weren’t as action packed anymore, and sometimes became a little repetitive. This wasn’t a huge issue as they were still really well written, but they didn’t have the same umph as the early fights.
There’s one last thing I want to talk about. This book isn’t YA, though I think a lot of people thought it was. The characters are young, but it’s definitely not YA. I’d probably say this book is the kind of thing you might read if you like fantasy and read YA and you were looking to move into adult fiction instead of YA. This is the perfect kind of bridging book. It has the spirit and the youth of YA but has the tone and action of adult fiction.
Overall I adored this book. It will likely become one of my most highly recommended books. I loved the plot and characters and was so absorbed by the world of this book I didn’t want to leave. Highly recommend!!!
Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out V. E. Schwab/Victoria Schwab at her website and Goodreads.
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