A Darker Shade of Magic, from #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab
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.
"A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale...This is a book to treasure."—Deborah Harkeness, New York Times bestselling author of the All Souls trilogy
Shades of Magic series
1. A Darker Shade of Magic
2. A Gathering of Shadows
3. A Conjuring of Light
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Parallel Londons and Intricate Characters
I adored A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab! I instantly connected with the main character, Kell and found the writing visually gorgeous! I didn’t have any expectations for this book, though it had been on my to-be-read for awhile now. However, I must have read something about the book that left the impression I wouldn’t like the writing and was pleasantly surprised when this wasn’t the case. I loved catching all the details of the worlds – yes worlds – Schwab shares with us. Most importantly, I could feel the differences of the four Londons and that just because a London exists in the same space doesn’t mean they’re not worlds apart.
The POV is split between Kell and Delilah Bard aka Lila, but I’d say there’s more POV chapters with Kell. For this reason, I consider Kell the main protagonist and it was huge for me to instantly connect with him. I connect better with female protagonists and so prefer reading books with them. I was thinking to myself why was it so easy to connect with him and came to the conclusion that maybe I’ve never come across one that was believable to me. As well, when the POV’s change I can definitely read a difference in character when it comes to dialogue and thoughts. This can be difficult to attain because of that lingering similarity between character voices. Schwab is exceptional at writing relatable characters.
In this book there exists four worlds Kell can travel to, though we only experience three of them: Red London, White London and Grey London as Black London was thought to be destroyed a long time ago. These colours haven’t been chosen randomly and the reader experiences that. Through Kell and Lila, I could really see the differences and learned the importance of remembering each London is vastly distinct. I have to be honest, White London seems like a very scary and bleak place to live, even when compared to Grey London, a world without magic.
Kell is an Antari, a world jumper or magician able to travel between worlds and belongs to Red London. The only other Antari in existence is Holland, who comes from White London and their relationship is strained, both having dangerous secrets of their own. I loved that in this book, magic comes with a price and Antari must sacrifice blood and pain when world jumping. Another intriguing fact, these worlds exist on top of each other so when traveling to White London, you must already be in Red London. If you want to go to Grey London, you must be in Red. You can’t travel to Black London from Grey or Red, you need to be in White. This made the plot all the more difficult for Kell and Lila and interesting for the reader.
I can’t wait to pick up the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows and find out what’s next for Kell and Lila. Schwab is a master of secrets, so I hope one particular piece of foreshadowing I picked up on is revealed in book #2. There’s a lot of dark elements in A Darker Shade of Magic and I loved every moment of it! I recommend this title to readers wanting a darker fantasy, with incredibly original worlds and intricate characters.