TITLE: A Darker Shade Of Magic
AUTHOR: V.E. Schwab
SERIES: Shades Of Magic (#1)
PUBLISHER: Tor Books
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
RATING: 5/5 Stars
Kell is one of the last travellers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveller, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. 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.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, 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.
What I Liked:
- The best part of the book was definitely the world-building, and the concept behind it. It was Fantasy but revolved around a simple idea. Four different Londons: Ours (historical and 'grey'), Red London (filled with magic and riches), White London (reduced to poverty and desperate to conquer) and Black London, destroyed forever. I just adored how such a simple idea could be so well planned and filled with political context, lore and historical richness. Some Fantasy authors try too hard and over-complicate or under-think things. It was nice to see the perfect balance!
- I really loved the characters too. Kell and Lila were both fantastic MCs with a lot of loveable personality and I rooted for them both all the way through. This book had some great villains too. In fact, I can't think of a single character I didn't like. Schwab clearly has a real knack for character development and motivation and I appreciate that, especially in Fantasy because characters so often fall into archetypes.
What I Disliked:
- The only thing that I was a little disappointed in was how the last 10% played out. The book seemed to be pointing towards adventures in Grey London and Red London before a cliffhanger that would lead to White London for book two! But as it turned out, I was wrong and it made those final chapters feel a little on the rushed side. I would have liked for Lila and Kell to spend more time in White London!
This book was fantastic, and definitely my favourite fantasy book I've read for a while! I've been having great fun with YA contemporaries so it was nice to get back into a genre I adore. Schwab writes really well and I loved her world-building, characterisation and plot! It was a bit of a shame that the last few chapters rushed so hurriedly through the 'final showdown' but I'm still excited about what more this series could possibly bring! I'm so excited to read book two!