Title: A Darker Shade of Magic (Book 1)
Series: Shades of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
Once a upon a time, the four Londons co-existed and with it, Antari, magicians that have the ability to travel from London to London. The four Londons are Red, Grey, White, and Black. In present times, a lot of people think that Black London is a myth, a story that you tell your children to scare them. Kell who so happens to be a main character and Antari, was raised in Red London as an adopted son to the King and Queen. He serves the Red London Empire and is used to travel the different Londons per duty. Each London is different in its own way and while traveling to one particular London, Kell finds that he might have to pay for the consequences of his smuggling from London to London. With those consequences comes an adventure to get everything back to the way it’s supposed to be and throughout this back and forth of London’s, Kell meets Lila Bard in a not so pleasant way. However, she might be everything Kell needed to have everything in order. A Darker Shade of Magic is the story of how balance is really important with all four London’s and getting that balance restored.
For those who have been following my blog for a little while now, you all know that Schwab isn’t a new-to-me author. I have read The Archived, Vicious, and Monsters of Verity Duology. I am obsessed with Schwab’s writing style. Schwab has a very distinct way of writing where usually the beginning of each book is a slow build up. By build up, I mean she is building not only the world, Schwab is also letting us get to know the characters she’s created, and what the plot entails.
That is exactly what we get with A Darker Shade of Magic. Through dialogue and scenes, we are meeting the different types of London’s and obtaining their descriptions, we meet characters and where the plot may go. I thought this was perfectly executed because although it was a slow start, Schwab definitely builds everything up for the next books to come. Also, once Schwab sets her world and characters, she runs with the plot without slowing down to give us any descriptions for anything else.
I really loved the cast of characters Schwab presented to us. Even the bad ones were creepy and well done like those Diabolical Dane Twins as I call them from White London. Schwab described them so perfectly that they made me cringe in disgust. They are evil blood suckers who are obsessed with magic and will do anything to get what they want when they want. Since we’re on the topic of White London, we meet Holland who is one of the two Antari’s left. Holland definitely gave me mixed feelings but I won’t get too much into that because I feel like that would be a spoiler.
We also meet Lila Bard who I absolutely adored. Lila is from Grey London and she does anything possible to live one more day, even if it’s thieving. Lila’s character arc really struck a chord with me and her backstory touched me. Although we don’t get much of her backstory, Schwab definitely opens up to something…if you know what part I’m talking about, you know what I mean….I really cannot wait to see what happens with her in the next books to come. The banter her and Kell had throughout this magical fantastical world was hilarious. No matter how serious things were, Lila always had me in fits of giggles.
Kell was another character who definitely warmed my heart. A Darker Shade of Magic starts with him, and through him we got to see the different London’s. He is one of the two Antari left in all of the London’s. Kell with his good intentions and good heart always means well and goes beyond to please the King and Queen, plus his brother Rhy who we meet a few times throughout the book. Rhy (pronounced like the word ‘why’) is this beautiful boy who absolutely loves his brother Kell and wants the best for him. Rhy is charismatic and charming. I feel like I’m going to see a lot of growth in the next books to come because although we met him on the surface, Schwab gave us enough to make me think.
I absolutely loved this book! Schwab is an auto-buy author for me and I am sure that I will love the next two books. A Darker Shade of Magic was well built and I know this was only the foundation of what’s to come in the future two books. This world is dark and I love a good dark fantasy. The way Schwab wrote about magic was smooth and understandable to me. The plot was action packed and on point. A Darker Shade of Magic was definitely a page turner with very surprising elements. There were times that I gasped and was on the edge of my seat hoping for the best with some of these characters, except the diabolical dane twins, they can go straight to hell for all I care lol. Schwab created a world where if you do something that’s out of order, there will be consequences which won’t be a nice payout. And I have to admit that although some of the scenes were hard to read because I got attached to characters, I appreciate the raw honesty of it.
Overall, this a great book and this review was probably super vague but I didn’t want to mention too much..if you want to know about Black London, read the book (if you haven’t already lol)!