Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Published: February 24th 2015 by Tor Books
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, YA/Adult
My Rating: 5/5
“Blood was magic made manifest. There it thrived. And there it poisoned. Kell had seen what happened when power warred with the body, watched it darken in the veins of corrupted men, turning their blood from crimson to black. If red was the color of magic in balance—of harmony between power and humanity—then black was the color of magic without balance, without order, without restraint.”
Kell is one of the last of his kind, an Antari, a magician with the ability to travel between worlds. As courier between crowns, and secret smuggler, Kell travels between three different versions of London. One where magic is forgotten, one where magic coexists and flourishes, and one where magic is draining the people who are starving for more of it.
And then there’s Black London, a world cut off and forgotten where magic consumed and spread like a virus. That London was destroyed, and its dark magic with it, or so Kell believed. But now he’s found a very deadly and powerful piece of Black London that must be returned to its home, before every London is at risk of falling to magic.
Oh my goodness. I finished this book merely hours ago and couldn’t help but review it immediately. Victoria Schwab has such a creative and beautiful mind that I am so glad she shares with us.
A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell, an Antari, with the ability to travel through different versions of London: Grey London, which is our London, a place with very little to no magic, Red London, which is Kell’s home and where magic is pulsing alive and strong along side humanity, and White London, where magic is leaching energy from its people who are so desperate for an inkling of magic.
But there used to be one more version of London, Black London. Back when the worlds held their doors open freely, anyone could pass through, but then Black London began to crumble. Magic spread and devoured, and out of fear, the doors were closed off. Except to Antari, like Kell. But Kell likes to break some rules, and takes up the hobby of smuggling pieces of Londons and carrying them across worlds.
Eventually, he smuggles the wrong item, and the result could look a lot like Black London. So Kell, along with his new found friend, thief, and Grey Londoner, Lila, have to set things right. If they don’t succeed, all the Londons could be destroyed by magic.
First off, what an incredible world(s) that Schwab has created for us! Sometimes we see worlds that exist along side our own, or even in our world, but Schwab has created three different versions of the same world, all reacting to magic in a different way. The amount of magic that each world holds is reflected in its appearance, its people, and it’s ruling. It’s intricate and detailed and unique.
Can you just feel the adventure? Even when Kell and Lila weren’t fighting for survival, I was still humming with excitement with all the questions these different Londons with such a dark past hold.
But the worlds aren’t the only enticing part of this novel. Kell is a character with a past, just one he isn’t exactly clear on himself. And we only get a glimpse of that in the first book. Kell is strong, but he isn’t the strongest, which is a little different. Usually our main characters are the best, or discover they have something the other side doesn’t. Kell isn’t the strongest magician, but he’s smart, and I like that a lot.
Lila Bard is a darling character. She’s rough and a pickpocket and prefers to wear men’s clothes. She’s a badass, but unlike some of our other bad ass female characters, she doesn’t succumb to femininity at any point. She’s a cutthroat, an adventurer, and she likes men coats and boots and weapons. She stays true to who she is, which means that she isn’t a Celaena Sardothian character, in that she will kill you then go paint her nails. That’s what makes her character so unique, Schwab didn’t feel the need to remind you that she’s a woman, she’s just Lila.
I can’t even tell you that there are things I didn’t like about this book, because that isn’t true. If anything, maybe I would like to have seen more of Holland’s side, more of his inner struggle with being bond. I didn’t know if I should hate him or pity him, because I couldn’t tell his wants from Athos’s commands.
In the end, I fell head over heels in love with A Darker Shade of Magic. I can’t wait to read A Gathering of Shadows and dig deeper into characters like Rhy, who are big in the story but we saw so little of in this book. I think this series is just amazing and so well done.
Let me know what you thought of my review and if you loved this book as well!