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


Goodreads blurb

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.

First line: “Kell wore a very peculiar coat.”

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Series: Shades of Magic, book 1
Author: V.E. Schwab / Victoria Schwab
My Edition: A paperback published by Titan Books in 2015 with 384 pages.
Age: Young Adult (15/16+)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Adult, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Urban Fantasy

As a bookstagrammer (something I say too often when explaining why I read particular books) I saw this all over instagram and bought it impulsively. I’m so glad I did!

The story is basically about Kell, who’s one of two Antari’s left in the world’s of London. There are four London’s, Grey, White, Red and Black, but Black London is rarely spoken of. Kell lives in Red London with the royal family there, and is the person taking the correspondence between the different London’s, because he’s one of two who can travel between the worlds. When Kell one day does a shady trade, he commits treason, and is found by Lila, or Delilah in Grey London.

The two set out on a journey trying to get away from White London’s powerful duo on the throne and the Antari in their possession (Holland). The plot is highly interesting, and I loved this twist on magic. I’ve often read books about people having magic or getting it, but this book is more about how magic works, and it made the book amazing! All though I found it a little odd at first, because Kell travels between the worlds and I didn’t really understand what was happening, but then I just fell completely in love with the world and its characters.

The writing is amazing, as always. (Only though I’ve read one book before this one by her), but it seems like this is a thing. That her writing is just purely amazing. I love the way she can tell a story, and how she describes things and how she makes a character into something on its own. I mean, I loved the way she built Kell from being just an Antari, to being someone I could relate to and feel with. Her writing just takes you into the world, into the scene and into the place where everything takes place. I can just picture everything so beautifully, I can almost taste the air and feel the splashes of blood on me. It’s just amazing!

She also divides this book the way she divided This Savage Song, which I SO LOVE. It’s like there are parts of the book, like part 1, part 2 etc. And then she starts the chapter count over again at every part. I love it, and I love how every “part” is just as planned out as the rest of the chapters inside it. You get to see things from a lot of different character’s sides, not only Kell or Lila, but from Athos (The White London king), from Beloc (a guy only mentioned twice in the book), from Parrish and Gen (Rhy’s guards), from Booth (a drunk man on the street). It’s just amazing how every part of the story comes together.

Kell is the main character of the book. He’s Antari, and therefore he is one of two that can travel between the London’s. Kell is incredibly likable, and to say it like I explained Victoria Schwab’s writing to Ida: She makes you second guess everyone, makes you read a couple of pages before you take sides and she makes every character likable in their own twisted way. I was sure Kell was a bad guy at first, but then she elaborated on his personality, making him probably one of my favorite characters of all time! He’s got incredible depth, he’s amazing really.
Holland was the guy I hated so so so much at one point in the book, but then I felt sorry for him. And I started to like him as well. I kind of saw him as the darker Kell in a way? I wanted him to survive almost as much as I wanted Kell to survive.
Lila, the most bad ass girl I’ve ever read about. She trumps Katniss any day. She’s bad ass and amazing and I loved her to bits in this story. She is just as much as a main character as Kell, just in a different way. The story is just as much hers as it is Kell’s.
Rhy, the Red London prince and Kell’s adoptive brother. I would love to see more of him in the next books, I loved his and Kell’s relationship. It was perfect.

The ending was the only part I was kind of uncertain about. It ends like Kell and Lila’s journey ends, and I don’t want it to end.

It’s an absolutely amazing book in every single way. You want it to go on and on and on, and I just can’t get enough of Schwab’s writing! It’s purely magic itself. The characters have incredible depth, the way the book is written is beautiful, the plot keeps you reading and reading! And you don’t want to put it down at all.

06/28 – Marked as to-read
09/17 – Marked as currently reading
09/18 – Page 28/7% “I’m liking this a lot! But it’s kind of a “heavy” book. I feel like I have to be on my A-game to actually read it”
09/19 – Page 47/12% “Kell’s a prince?”
09/25 – Page 160/41% “LILA! Nooo”
09/25 – Page 169/44% “Whyyy, noo, Keell :(“
09/26 – Page 204/53% “Whyy, again whyy… Not Barron….”
09/26 – Page 228/59% “Kell’s trinkets!!!”
09/26 – Page 319/83% “This book is simply amazing, down to every word of it. I forget to update Goodreads because it’s amazing haha. Only a few pages left, and I’m guessing I’ll finish it tomorrow before work, or while at work :)”
09/27 – Marked as read

Absolutely! I’m going to buy it actually, like I have it in paperback, but I want it in hardcover. ASAP.

If you like historical fiction with a large portion of magic then this is perfect for you!

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
– Lila, “A Darker Shade of Magic”



3 comments on “Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

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