Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of MagicA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

Beware spoilers ahead!

When I first saw this book I was hesitant. I am very picky about fantasy books and I wasn’t sure whether this would live up to my expectations. After some reading some reviews I decided to give this one a shot. I am happy to say that I did enjoy this!

The book is written in third person and switches between multiple point of views. It was a little confusing at first but all the characters have a part to play.

The book begins with Kell as he travels to King George III in Grey London. He delivers a letter that the Queen of Red London wrote. Afterwards he visits Prince Regent who is also located in Grey London. Once he has finished his visit he makes his way over to The Stone’s Throw. A tavern in Grey London.

While Kell is an Antari (someone who can travel between all London’s) and he works for the Crown, on the side he does some smuggling. He’s not quite sure why he does it, he simply does. In Grey London there is no magic but there are some people who know that magic exists. He makes trades with these people. He will give them something from Red London and in return they will give him something from Grey London. Kell’s a bit of a collector.

Every-now-and-then he’ll run into someone who thinks that if they had something from Kell’s world they will be able to perform magic. In this instance Kell runs into a man named Ned who asks whether he can try performing some magic on the toy Kell is going to trade. Ned accomplishes nothing to which he assumes the toy has been rigged by Kell. Kell demonstrates to prove him that it hasn’t been rigged. He suggests that he will get some dirt from Red London in exchange for something that Ned doesn’t want to lose. Kell says that he will have to wait a month for the dirt.

Kell then meets with the man who wants to trade something for the toy that Kell has brought. The man has brought Kell a music box. Kell accepts and he leaves Grey London. Once he reaches home the King informs Kell that he needs Kell to make a visit to White London to deliver a letter. Kell isn’t to excited about it, but he does as he is told.

White London is ruled by the ruthless Dane twins. Astrid happens to be more insane than her brother Athos. Although both are pretty scary in their own right. When he reaches there he hands the twins the note from The King and after several drinks he leaves.

On his way to a tavern he runs into a woman. This woman claims to know about his illegal activities and begs him to send a letter to her last family member. She gives him an item in exchange for delivering the note. Before he can refuse she disappears.

Once Kell reaches Red London he decides to get the task over with. When he reaches the address that the woman gave him he starts to get a bad feeling. He comes face to face with a few guards and he realizes that he has been set up. While running away he checks the package the woman gave him and he realizes that it is a black stone that has some magic in it. Bad magic. Throughout all this he runs into Lila. And their adventure begins then.

I’m now going to explain the characters backstories. When Kell was 5 years old he was taken into the palace. Adopted by the King and Queen. He has no memory of his past. He believes that the King and Queen had his memory erased. He is close with his brother Rhy. And he loves the King and Queen. But at times he seems ungrateful. He thinks that he is just a tool for the Crown nothing more.

Lila is a thief who dresses up as a man. When she was little her mother died and her father tried to sell her off. She killed the buyer and ran. Since then she has been a thief and aspires to be a pirate. I personally liked her character more than any of the characters. She was interesting and she had common sense. She has as an almost fatherly relationship with The Stone Tavern’s manager Barron. Which was cute to read about.

I only had two problems with this book. I found that there were some plot holes are and there. And while I was reading it I was bored at times and wanted to watch some tv instead. Aside from that the plot was good as were the characters.

Overall this was a good book! I look forward to the sequel. I recommend it to fans of the author and fantasy.

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