A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publication: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: Kindle Edition, 401 pages
Genre: Adult, High Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Read: March 2016
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.
Plot – 4.5 out of 5 stars
So good! It’s super exciting and entertaining, the first few chapters set up what’s going to happen but after that it’s just straight action and adventure. There is a lot going on, not only with the different Londons but also with the conflict and it was so fun and exciting but suspenseful at the same time. There was an awesome magic system, as well as death and violence and again a lot of action and adventure. One of the best parts is that there is practically no romance in this book which lets the characters and the story shine on its own.
Writing Style – 5 out of 5 stars
Victoria is one of my favorite authors of all time and that is because of her writing. Every book I have read from her (nearly all of them) has absolutely gorgeous writing. In this book, it’s super addictive and intricate. She weaves a story little by little that you can’t see the bigger picture until the end. It’s very elaborate and descriptive and could feel a little dragged out but it’s so engaging and concise that it goes so quickly. And the world building in this book is out of this world superb!
Characters – 4.5 out of 5 stars
I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! The main characters became my little babies in this book. Kell is so cute but not at the same time. He has the broody, angsty personality that kind of gets on my nerves but beneath all of that he has a really big heart. He is very determined to do his best and to fix his mistakes but at the same time, he’s has this rebellious streak that just wants to break out. Lila on the other hand, our second protagonist, is just plain fierce, like she could win America’s Next Top Model with just her fierceness. She’s really powerful and strong but sometimes incredibly pigheaded. She has always wanted to have adventures and when the chance comes she jumps at it. However, that same instinct sometimes causes her to bite off more than she can chew and gets her intro trouble. Still I saw some of those traits shift and while she doesn’t like it, she took a shining to Kell and their formed a very unlikely friendship. All the side characters were totally complex and well developed. There were some that I would’ve liked to know more about and others that I could’ve done without so much detail, but every one of them was totally amazing and had a distinct purpose to the plot and its development.
I was just as blown away by this book as I thought I was going to be. Schwab is one of my favorite authors of all time and she never disappoints.
The plot is fascinating. We follow Kell who is an Antari, meaning he can travel between alternate Londons (different dimensions). He accidentally brings a forbidden artifact from a different London to his home and every blows up from there haha. First of all, the world building in this book is totally amazing. Each London feels completely distinct from the other. They’re all concrete, complex and seperate entities, while at the same time having points of connection between them. It’s actually a little mind blowing to realize someone came up with something like this. The plot itself is full of twists and turns and lots of action. I felt on the edge of my seat the entire time because something about Victoria’s books is that they’re always unpredictable. So I had no idea what was really going to happen. The missions felt like a lost cause, this entire sense of foreboding was around the whole thing and I had no idea if they were going to pull it off in the end. There were so many obstacles in their way and the whole way was full of violence and death and struggles. By the time the end rolled around, I was so exhausted from being on the edge of my seat and freaking the hell out, that it didn’t bother me. The ending was a little open ended, which I don’t like most of the time but it was enough that this part of the story was done but there was enough left in the air to make you sure that the sequel was going to bring it. (Spoiler: it did!)
Kell became one of my favorite characters slowly but surely. He has a really contrasting personality that I really liked. He has a lot of issues, with identity and how he fits into his world and wanting to be a little dangerous and rebellious without betraying his kingdom or his morals and the values taught to him. He’s moody and angsty because of that and kind of with a stick up his ass to be quite honest. But beneath all of that is a heart of gold. All he really wants is to feel like he belongs and to protect the people he loves from harm, no matter where it comes from. I really liked his courage and sincerity in his quest and yeah <3.
Lila on the other hand is a little spitfire. She’s super snarky and only wants to seek adventure. But at the same time, that desire makes her really reckless which gets so frustrating! Sometimes I just wanted to shake her and be like ¨BUT YOU CAN DIE, STOP IT!” But she’s the kind that will do whatever the hell she wants to do no matter how crazy just to see how it ends up. I like her attitude and her tenacity and her thrill for life but damn, calm down a little girl haha.
Briefly I want to mention two of the side characters. Rhy, who is for all intents and purposes Kell’s brother, is very sweet and has a very lively and positive kind of attitude. I wish we could’ve gotten to know more of his character in this book as well as his relationship with Kell. There’s obviously a lot of love between them but they spent most of the time apart so you don’t get to see a lot of their dynamic. Holland, who is another Antari but from another London, he’s one of those characters that I want to hate. Like I really really want to hate him but I can’t because his back story is so deep and intense and heartbreaking that I can’t help but have a little soft spot for him in my heart. But just a little one.
Overall, I am so happy that I finally read this book. The story captured me completely, I fell in love with all of the characters in special ways and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next. (Spoiler: I already know! Review for book 2 coming soon)
So that’s it for this review! Let me know if you have read this glorious piece of literature and what your thoughts on it were (don’t ruin my buzz though). Let me know if you have read any other books by Ms. Schwab because I only have one already published one to read to be caught up with all her works. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!