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


A Darker Shade of Magic by VE SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1)
V.E. Schwab
Published: Feb. 24, 2015 (Tor)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 5 stars

Many, many years ago magic was a prevalent thing throughout the worlds. Those who carried magic within themselves could travel at will through the open doors between parallel universes. However, when dark magic started to rise up in what is now called Black London the doors between universes were closed not only from Black London but between all the Londons (Red, White, and Gray). All were left to deal with the fallout of magic in their own way. Some fared better than others.

Kell is a Traveler. He has a rare form of magic that allows him to travel to the parallel Londons. He calls Red London his home and because of his ability to travel he is used as the personal ambassador for the Red Royals to communicate with the other Londons. Kell’s vice comes in the form of smuggling. What Kell smuggles are artifacts from other Londons which is strictly forbidden due to fear of spreading magic where magic doesn’t want to/shouldn’t go. It is a vice Kell’s adoptive brother Rhys says will get him into trouble one day. That one day comes all too soon when, after a visit to White London, it seems someone has set Kell up to take the fall by giving him an unidentified object. In his effort to get away from his would-be pursuers, Kell runs afoul of thief Delilah Bard on the streets of Gray London.

Lila Bard wants to be more than a thief. She wants an adventure. She wants to be free. When she encounters Kell, who she perceives as a drunk and easy target, Lila has no idea that this moment is the chance she’ll have for adventure; the moment she gets herself completely entangled in Kell’s mess.

Going into A Darker Shade of Magic I tried to dispel any and all preconceived ideas about the story. What I found in A Darker Shade was this fresh, new magical world that I literally want to live in despite the darker aspects that pop up throughout the story.

Kell is a character who is used to being the ultimate power, able to travel to different worlds while everyone else he knows is stuck to the same spot. For all that he’s the adoptive son of the Red Royals he still feels like he has no true place with them. No home. He’s such a loyal character and I just loved him. Yes he had his faults and oftentimes would hold himself higher than others because of his power, but it was never out of a sense of malice. When worse comes to worse, Kell expects to sacrifice himself in order to save all the Londons. No backwards glance.

Lila, on the other hand, has never known anything about loyalty. Through her time with Kell we see her learn to trust and care. Lila was a great character because even though she learns loyalty she still wouldn’t balk at stealing to get what she wants. She would even kill to get what she wants if that’s what it took. She doesn’t completely change her personality to fit some new ideal of herself. She just lets a little more in.

Once Darker Shade gets going it’s non-stop adventure. Even the world-building at the beginning was so interesting and intricate I hated when I had to put the book down. I’m so excited that it looks like this will be a series. There’s a definitive ending, but look closely and you’ll see some threads left hanging that promise more great adventures to come.

Sexual content: Sex

VBC Note: You can learn more about this world, by checking out our Red London post featuring a brief Q&A with V.E. Schwab.

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