Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.
Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.
This was a very satisfying read. If you’re in the middle of a reading slump, A Darker Shade of Magic might just be the book to get you out of it.
V.E. Schwab is an ‘auto-buy’ author for me; if she writes a book, I’m going to read it. Just because it’s V.E. Schwab. Nothing has knocked off Vicious from first place in my Schwab universe, but ADSOM is definitely a runner up.
ADSOM has a list of things I love in a fantasy story: a fascinating world, a good magic system, intriguing characters, frightening villains, and solid writing. It has action, adventure, humour, and spunk. Also, I will say this: Schwab is fantastic at writing romance! And by romance I mean the lack of it. What makes her so good at it is that she lays subtle gestures between the pages, giving you just enough information to take the hint, but never fully explores it so 1) you don’t cringe and 2) you actually end up wanting more! (but only within reason, of course)
As much as I enjoyed the book, there were minor things I thought could have been done better. ADSOM had a very slow start and while I didn’t really mind it, I found it affected how engaged I was in the story. It was a lot easier for me to put the book down during the first half of the book before it hit me with one chapter and all hell broke loose. It felt quite unbalanced to me so I did find the latter half more enjoyable than the first.
That being said I’m really looking forward to seeing how Schwab will further explore and develop her characters. And for those of you wondering, it DOESN’T end with a big cliffhanger, which is a plus in my books.
As the first book in a series, ADSOM was a great start to a trilogy I’m quite excited to delve into. Be sure to read this book if you haven’t already!