A Darker Shade of Magic (Review)

Friday, April 29, 2016
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Genre: Fantasy
Page Length: 416 pages
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Tor Books

About A Darker Shade of Magic (via 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.
There are a million things I can say about this book, so it's hard to find a way to articulate my thoughts. So let me just start with this: WOW. A Darker Shade of Magic is like no other book I've ever read. Granted I don't read much adult fantasy, but either way, this book is extremely special. From the characters to the worlds to the magic systems in those worlds and everything in between, Schwab did not fail to captivate me.

Every single character and aspect of the worlds Schwab created were unique and special and intriguing and wondrous and I'm sorry for just throwing around synonyms for the words "amazing" and "special" but the worlds of A Darker Shade of Magic and the characters that dwell in it are truly incredible and I don't even know how to put it into words. I can just tell Schwab put so much effort into the little details because each character and place, no matter how big or small, had his/her/its very own personality and not a single one blended with another or was forgotten to me. Overall, the cast of characters in A Darker Shade of Magic is probably one of my favorite (if not my #1 favorite) cast of characters out there.

I absolutely ADORED Kell. I know he's flawed and makes mistakes and all that jazz, but he proved Holland wrong and owns up to his mistakes, fixes them, and becomes stronger and braver along the way.

Lila was a glorious heroine as well. She's brave, bold, and sassy. I loved seeing her interact with all the different characters, and I respected her for not letting anyone stand in the way of her dreams.

I even liked the villains, and I rarely ever like villains. Perhaps I don't like them in the way I liked Kell, Lila, Rhy, and the "good guys", but I was definitely intrigued by them. Even though I hated what the villains did to the beloved heroes, I respected them as characters. They were twisted, but they had every reason to be. I understood where they were coming from with their actions, and that says a lot about Schwab as a writer. If an author can make me feel for both the heroes and the villains, she's done a fantastic job.

Schwab did this and more with all her characters, especially with Holland. Although I didn't find out as much about Holland throughout the book as I would have liked to, I still liked him because based on what I did know about his past, he wasn't so much an evil character as he was a tortured soul who didn't really have a choice.

I touched briefly on the worlds in the novel, but I'd like to say a bit more about them. I know parallel universe stories existed before, but A Darker Shade of Magic really sets a high standard for those that follow. The distinctness of each of the Londons, even with the simplest thing like the difference in smells, captured my attention and drew me in. I was captivated by the intricacies of each London and their different languages, rulers, behaviors, and just everything.

The plot could be a tiny bit slow at times, but overall, A Darker Shade of Magic was a delight to read. Everything about it was so focused and detailed, allowing me to fully immerse myself into each London and go on a wild adventure with Kell and Lila. I can't wait to see what's in store for them next!

Rating: 4.5 stars

1 comment :

  1. I'm so glad you liked this one! It is one of my favourite fantasy novels so I always get excited when people love it as well! I can't wait to see what you think of A GATHERING OF SHADOWS!

    Jamie @ Books and Ladders