Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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This cover is just so gorgeous! I want a copy now!

Star rating: 5 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

General information: This book was published in February 2015 by Tor Books.

My thoughts:

UGH I just love Lila so much-

Oh wait, is that not how you’re supposed to start off a review? Whoops.

Anyway, I think I’ve discovered a love for V.E. Schwab! Between this and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I’m hooked.

Much like Addie LaRue, I had to take my time with this book to really enjoy the writing. It wasn’t a fast read for me- it took me about a week to finish- but I really loved it and plan on getting the series now (the copy I read was from the library).

I loved the main characters! Kell, Lila, and Rhy were all so well-done and vivid, especially Lila. A cross-dressing, violent, shit-talking thief? Yes please.

The plot was easy to follow, which was nice, because there was a lot of worldbuilding to learn. The plot didn’t really get started until a quarter of the way into the book, though, which might be a turnoff for some. I enjoyed the way she developed the world and characters first before diving into the adventure. I felt really invested in everything that was going on.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the nascent romance plot, though. I don’t know how that gets dealt with in the later books so I can’t speak to that aspect, but I felt it was a little underdeveloped in this book. I wasn’t particularly rooting for them as a couple, more as a pair of friends.

As far as the worldbuilding went, though, I loved the different Londons and the magic system! However, I felt that I still didn’t really understand the magic system at the end of the book, but there are two other books in the series so I don’t really mind. That just means there’s more mysteries to be answered in later books.

This book might have brought me out of my fantasy slump, that’s how much I loved it. I plan on reading the next two books in the series- and soon! I highly recommend this for anyone who hasn’t picked up the series yet.

Content warnings: Death, violence, torture- there are some pretty dark themes in this book so if that’s not your thing then beware.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!