A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Synopsis: 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.
-Spoiler Free Review-
I am completely and utterly in love with this book.
As my first V.E. Schwab book, I had high expectations- and A Darker Shade of Magic did not disappoint.
The premise is so very interesting- parallel worlds all centring on parallel London’s. The first part of the book was mostly world building, as the multiple realities needed a vast amount of description. But Schwab made even this part of the book entirely gripping and wonderful, which is no easy feat.
Due to these multiverses, the setting changes quite rapidly throughout A Darker Shade of Magic, but it’s not at all confusing, and doesn’t distract from the plot or character development. Speaking of character development- I cannot get enough of Lila Bard. She commits such amazing acts of lowkey baddassery and I seriously loved every moment reading about her.
Lila is an awesome character, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading about the other characters! Usually a change in POV can bug me, but in A Darker Shade of Magic, I was pleased to find myself reading different points of view, because all of the characters are described in such depth. Kell- our other narrator- is mysterious and powerful, and every exchange between him and Lila had me grinning.
The villains in this book are so deliciously evil– I can’t stress how much I love the cold, calculating, vicious villains. There is certainly no lack of these in A Darker Shade of Magic, which delights me to no end. One of the protagonists is also slightly problematic throughout the book, but this only seems to add an interesting balance between the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’.
I can’t seem to find anything wrong with this book, to be perfectly honest. All I have to say is- please pick this book up! I’m very excited to read some more of V.E. Schwab’s work- especially the sequel; A Gathering of Shadows!